My apologies for the delay in putting up this post. In the context of the discussion on the need for India to import reprocessing technology as a part of the nuclear deal --
somnath wrote:One, American reprocessing technology would be a few decades ahead of India on reprocessing...After all, they have been at it for a much longer period, and spent a significant amount more...But American reprocessing tech wasnt the "cornerstone" of the nuke deal at all, coming out of the nuclear winter was..People forget that Tarapur survived on a decade-by-decade basis (for fuel)...Last time around, the Russians supplied the necessary metal..Nuke power plants were operating @ sub-optimal capacities due to the same reason, lack of enough domestic capacity to mine and process uranium...With the nuke deal, every single ounce of domestic uranium can be devoted to the "strategic" sector, while the power plants can be run on imported fuel..And the same imported fuel from the unsafeguarded reactors can be further reprocessed for strategic purposes - the options have just multiplied now...
About the last point on "right" of reprocessing, well, that is correct, we dont have the right...But we havent cared about it..We have anyway gone ahead and reprocessed the fuel from Tarapur, and that is what was used in Pok-I! In fact that was the major reason why sanctions were imposed by the US after Pok-I....
After wading through my none-too-well-organised archives, I have culled an alternative perspective, to the one quoted above, as follows:
1. As a result of a law passed by the US Congress some time in 1978, commercial reprocessing of spent nuclear fuel had been banned in the US. This ban is effective even as of now. In fact, I believe that, in the 1980's US had cited this law to deny India the permission to reprocess Spent fuel from TAPS 1 & 2 even though the then (1963) Indo-US 123 Agreement for Tarapur 1 & 2 envisaged possibility of India undertaking reprocessing of the Tarapur 1 &2 spent fuel in India, to recover reactor usable Pu. (My understanding is that in view of unacceptable quantities of isotopes such as Pu 240, Pu 241, and Pu 242 in the reprocessed fuel from the LWRs, it would not have been suitable for use in the PNE of POK 1).
2. From Processing of Used Nuclear Fuel (Updated 21 October 2010)
. . .
In the USA, no civil reprocessing plants are now operating, though three have been built. The first, a 300 t/yr plant at West Valley, New York, was operated successfully from 1966-72. However, escalating regulation required plant modifications which were deemed uneconomic, and the plant was shut down. The second was a 300 t/yr plant built at Morris, Illinois, incorporating new technology which, although proven on a pilot-scale, failed to work successfully in the production plant. It was declared inoperable in 1974. The third was a 1500 t/yr plant at Barnwell, South Carolina, which was aborted due to a 1977 change in government policy which ruled out all US civilian reprocessing as one facet of US non-proliferation policy. In all, the USA has over 250 plant-years of reprocessing operational experience, the vast majority being at government-operated defence plants since the 1940s.
. . .
India has a 100 t/yr oxide fuel plant operating at Tarapur with others at Kalpakkam and Trombay, and Japan is starting up a major (800 t/yr) plant at Rokkasho while having had most of its used fuel reprocessed in Europe meanwhile. It has a small (90 t/yr) reprocessing plant operating at Tokai Mura. Russia has a 400 t/yr oxide fuel reprocessing plant at Ozersk (Chelyabinsk).
. . .
Some time in 2005 / 2006, the Bush Administration proposed development of GNEP which envisaged spent fuel reprocessing by the US. However, subsequently the Obama Administration, I believe, has nixed this initiative.
3. Also from the above link
World commercial reprocessing capacity (tonnes per year)
Code: Select all
France, La Hague 1700
UK, Sellafield (THORP) 900
Russia, Ozersk (Mayak) 400
Japan (Rokkasho) 800
Total (approx) 3800
Other nuclear fuels:
UK, Sellafield (Magnox) 1500
Total (approx) 1750
Total civil capacity 5550
Note that US is not listed in the above table, as obviously, they do not at the moment have commercial spent fuel reprocessing capacity.
3. What the PM said
when inaugurating the 2nd reprocessing plant at Tarapur on 08 Jan 2011:
Calling it a historic occasion, Dr. Singh said: “This is a significant milestone in our country's three-stage indigenous nuclear programme. I heartily congratulate the scientists and engineers who were involved in the design, construction and commissioning of this unique complex and state-of-the-art facility. This is yet another instance that once we make up our mind, India can do anything.”
4. From a report in NYT of 03 Jan 2011 China Ready to Reprocess Nuclear Fuel
Russia, India, Japan and several European countries already reprocess nuclear fuel — the material used to produce energy from nuclear reactors — to separate and recover the unused uranium and plutonium, as well as to reduce waste and safely close the nuclear cycle.
Note that US does not figure in that list of countries currently reprocessing spent nuclear fuel.
5. I recollect that in 2007 / 2008, there were many discussions not only between the Indian and US negotiators, but also in Indian and US media about the inclusion of issues relating to reprocessing in the deal. There were two equally important aspects (1) India's right to reprocess the spent fuel (from Uranium that was to be imported subsequent to the deal) and (2) US to give/transfer reprocessing technologies to India as a part of the deal. The US position was (perhaps continues to be) negative in both cases.
5. 1 Regarding right to reprocess, an article
by S. Varadarajan in the Hindu of 03 June, 2007, discussing the progress of the deal at that point of time, has this title and sub-title:
India will stick to 'rights-based' approach on reprocessing
'Without reprocessing, there is nothing'.
5..2 Regarding cooperation in reprocessing technologies, in his statement to Parliament on August 17, 2006, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, clearly enunciated that "full cooperation" (envisaged in the July 18, 2005 Indo-US Agreement with GW Bush) implied technologies related to all aspects of the complete nuclear fuel cycle, thus highlighting his position that spent fuel reprocessing was one of the sought after items in the deal (Reference: http://www.hinduonnet.com/fline/fl2412/ ... 011400.htm
6. Regarding the reprocessing plant that was used to produce Pu for POK 1, I found the following reference (dated October 1997)
in the Internet:
Today three reprocessing plants are operated by the Indian Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) with a total design capacity of about 230 metric tons, none of which are safeguarded. The first Indian reprocessing plant at the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC) at Trombay began operating in 1964 and has processed fuel from the Cirus and Dhruva research reactors. It was decommissioned in 1973 due to excessive corrosion, then refurbished and put back into service in 1982. A total of about 400 kg of plutonium is estimated to have been separated at the small BARC facility, and is reported to have been used in the Indian nuclear weapons program. The plutonium used in the "peaceful nuclear device" exploded in Rasjasthan in 1974 was reprocessed at BARC.
A second reprocessing plant, the Power Reactor Fuel Reprocessing (PREFRE) facility, dedicated to reprocessing CANDU power reactor fuel, was brought into operation at Tarapur in 1982.
7. From the Internet, I found these links to two papers giving some information about the extent of indigenous development that has been achieved in fuel fabrication and spent fuel reprocessing in IGCAR.
7.1 Reprocessing Of Fast Reactor Fuels At Indira Gandhi Centre For Atomic Research Kalpakkam
(appears to be dated 2004)
7.2 Fuel Cycle Activities in India
(paper presented at INPRO Dialogue Forum, IAEA Vienna in Oct 2010).