‘Indo-US nuclear deal should result in two-way trade’

June 24th, 2008 - 8:14 pm ICT by IANS  


Kalpakkam, June 24 (IANS) The proposed Indo-US nuclear deal will have to be a mutually beneficial relationship, and not one-way imports of reactors and equipment by India, a top official said here Tuesday. “We are looking for a relationship that is two-way: for India to be able to export and import,” Nuclear Power Corp of India Ltd (NPCIL) chairman and managing director S.K. Jain told reporters after the successful launch of a prototype fast-breeder reactor (PFBR) safety vessel.

“We can absorb the pressurized water reactor technology and later export this to those who need it,” he added.

Echoed Baldev Raj, director of Indira Gandhi Centre for Atomic Research (IGCAR): “India is considered a world leader today in fast-breeder reactor technology. After the 1970s, no other country has built a fast-breeder reactor on a commercial scale, which is what India is now doing in building PFBR.”

The Rs.34.92-billion 500 megawatt PFBR, being built by the Bharatiya Nabhikiya Vidyut Nigam Ltd (Bhavini), is a joint effort of IGCAR and NPCIL - with the former providing the technology, and the latter its expertise in construction of nuclear power plants.

Jain said Indian private sector manufacturers of nuclear power equipment were awaiting the nuclear deal with the US as it would enhance their business prospects and make them part of the international nuclear business community.

“While that is for the future, today the Indian nuclear establishment is looking at indigenous technology for its needs,” he said.

The PFBR project site near IGCAR, Madras Atomic Power Station (Maps), is a beehive of activity as construction work progresses.

Officials the project is divided into two: the nuclear island - projects related to nuclear energy, and the power island - projects related to power generation.

“Most of the work pertaining to the nuclear island is nearing completion. The lowering of the safety vessel into the reactor vault, the first non-civil work, is a major step,” Jain said.

The huge 200-tonne vessel with a 13-metre diameter and a 13-metre height can hold 1.1 million litres of liquid, said A. Ananth, Bhavini project engineer, planning and instrumentation.

“In another three months, the main vessel weighing about 100 tonnes will go inside the safety vessel and will be followed by the inner vessel,” he added.

The PFBR project was started in 2003 and is expected to start producing power by 2010.

Jain said two more fast reactors will come up in Kalpakkam, about 80 kilometres from Chennai.

Queried on the declining plant load factor (PLF) of nuclear plants for want of uranium, Jain said NPCIL facilities would operate at 85 percent PLF in another three to four years. “We are in the process of developing uranium mines for that purpose,” he said.

While trial production had commenced at the Turamdih uranium mine in Jharkhand after teething problems were sorted out, Jain said new mine projects were being planned in Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Meghalaya.

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