Uranium import to benefit India’s nuclear plants
India’s civil nuclear plants are going to be benefited from import of fuel from friendly countries after the Nuclear Suppliers’ Group in September, 2008 agreed upon this. India has already signed agreements with USA, France, Russia and Kazakhstan to supply uranium, out of which France has already completed supply whereas part supplies have been received from Russia, Prithviraj Chavan, Minister for Science & Technology and Earth Sciences said.
However, the imported fuel can be used only in reactors which are under International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards. India currently has only seven operating reactors under IAEA safeguards.
“Capacity utilization has improved after introduction of imported uranium in safeguarded reactors. The states like Maharashtra, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Punjab, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Jammu & Kashmir and Chandigarh are likely to be benefited from import of uranium,” Chavan said in the parliament.
He said Rajasthan, Karnataka and Bihar have reiterated their requests for setting up new nuclear power plants in future. “The sites under consideration are Mahi-Banswara (Rajasthan), Kaiga & Mannur (Karnataka) and Rajauli (Bihar),” he said. The government has already given its in principal approval for sites in Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Haryana, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and West Bengal in October 2009.
Internationally, the economic life of nuclear power stations is 30-40 years. Based on systematic life assessment studies and life extension measures, the nuclear power plants can be safely operated for another 20-25 years. “In India also our experience has been similar,” he said.
On the issue of any possible health hazards of such plants, he said there has been no incident of leakage or discharge of radioactivity beyond the limits specified by the AERB. “Epidemiological surveys to assess the effects of radiation among the employees and their family members who reside near the nuclear power plants have been completed by the Tata Memorial Centre and they have indicated that the operations of nuclear power plants have no ill effects on health,” Chavan added.