Discussion in 'Economy & Infrastructure' started by nitesh, Feb 22, 2009.
Discussions related to nuclear deal here please
Russia's TVEL to sign $780 mln nuclear fuel deal with India
MOSCOW, February 7 (RIA Novosti) - Russian nuclear fuel producer TVEL expects to sign a $780 million contract on fuel supplies to Indian nuclear power plants, a spokesman for Russia's state nuclear power corporation Rosatom said on Saturday.
The contract, if signed, could make Russia the first country to supply nuclear fuel to India since the Nuclear Suppliers Group lifted a three-decade ban on nuclear fuel sales to the country on September 6, 2008.
"The contract is likely to be signed on February 11 in Mumbai," the spokesman said.
Under the deal, Russia would supply India with 2,000 metric tons of uranium pellets.
In December, the French company Areva and India's Atomic Energy Department signed a deal for the supply of 300 tons of uranium to be used in Indian nuclear reactors under International Atomic Energy Agency safeguards.
The fuel contract would be another step in burgeoning nuclear cooperation between Russia and India. On December 5, Moscow and Delhi signed an agreement to build an additional four reactors for the Kudankulam nuclear power plant, where it is finishing two reactors under an earlier contract, and construct new nuclear plants in India.
TVEL is one of the world's leading manufacturers of nuclear fuel, which it supplies to 73 commercial (17% of global market) and 30 research reactors in 13 countries.
Master stroke if we need to sum it up in short
India ready for ban on nuclear weapons: NSA
7 Feb 2009, 1615 hrs IST, IANS
MUNICH: India is willing to negotiate a nuclear weapons convention leading to global non-discriminatory and verifiable elimination of nuclear weapons, National Security Advisor MK Narayanan has said here.
Addressing an international security conference in Munich on Friday, the NSA said: "If this conference succeeds in not merely addressing the issue of nuclear reductions but also devise pathways to their elimination, this might well be the transforming moment for the global community."
"Non-proliferation cannot be an end in itself, and has to be linked to effective nuclear disarmament. Nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation should be seen as mutually re-inforcing processes. Effective disarmament must enhance the security of all states and not merely that of a few," he said while speaking on "Non-Proliferation, Arms Control and Future of Nuclear Weapons; Is Zero Possible?"
"Even today, India is perhaps the only nuclear weapons state to express its readiness to negotiate a Nuclear Weapons Convention leading to global, non-discriminatory and verifiable elimination of nuclear weapons."
Recalling former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi's stark warning when he presented his action plan to the UN general assembly in 1988, Narayanan said it was by far the most comprehensive initiative for complete elimination of all nuclear weapons in stages by 2010.
This included covering issues ranging from nuclear testing and cessation of production of fissile material for nuclear weapons to a time-bound elimination of stockpiles.
As concrete steps towards this end, Narayanan mentioned reaffirmation of the unequivocal commitment of all states possessing nuclear weapons to the goal of complete elimination of nuclear weapons, reduction of the salience of nuclear weapons in security doctrines and adoption of measures to reduce nuclear dangers, including preventing the unintentional or accidental use of nuclear weapons.
see how these guys are getting in line
Refusal to sell uranium to India 'morally questionable'
High profile Australian environmentalist Tim Flannery has criticised the Australian Government's refusal to sell uranium to India.
Professor Flannery says the policy is morally questionable. The well known scientist has been holding talks with Indian business and political leaders in New Delhi.
TIM FLANNERY: If you just think of the morality of selling coal to India, versus uranium, both of them are dangerous products, potentially, if they are misused.
And yet we're willing to sell coal with gay abandon, but won't consider the sale of uranium, and I think that's a questionable moral standard to have.
SALLY SARA: Professor Flannery gave a speech to a group of business leaders in New Delhi on the difficulties ahead for the Indian energy sector.
TIM FLANNERY: Look it's a mixture of difficulties and opportunities, you know, the difficulties are that they need development now, so when you talk about technologies that might be ready in 10 or 15 years time, there's very little interest.
But the opportunities really come from the fact that they haven't yet built an energy infrastructure, so they can take up the best now as they go along.
So I think ultimately, India is going to end up with a better and greener energy mix than China, for example, which industrialised a decade or two earlier.
SALLY SARA: What about the issue of India generating its own technology, also synthesising technology from elsewhere.
We're seen many business services and technologies have been outsourced here in India because they can do it cheap and well, is there a chance to do the same thing when it comes to energy technology?
TIM FLANNERY: I believe so. What you need to do that is the right kind of government policy, meant to kick-start local industries for example, particularly in the energy sector.
So some sort of, if you're talking about photovoltaics; some sort of feed-in law would help enormously here to grow that industry.
SALLY SARA: The policies here have been set very heavily in favour of coal, you were talking earlier about nuclear energy. Why do you think nuclear energy is a viable part of the mix here in India?
TIM FLANNERY: I think, you know, ultimately, if the choice is between coal and nuclear power, the two existing major ways we have to do it, nuclear power is a more viable option.
Every conventional coal-fired power plant we add to the planet is just another nail in the coffin, as far as the climate challenge goes. So, we know that nuclear has its problems, but they're less problematic certainly than coal.
Imported fuel supplies for nuclear stations being tied up
French supply likely for RAPS units; Russia may deliver uranium pellets.
Russia’s TVEL would deliver low-enriched uranium supplies worth over $700 million to India
DAE is also holding talks on uranium supplies with Canada, Kazakhstan, and some African countries
New Delhi, Feb. 10 Imported fuel supplies for the country’s starving nuclear power programme are on the horizon, which could get the indigenous atomic stations up and running at higher capacity in the due course.
The Department of Atomic Energy plans to use the first tranche of nuclear fuel supplies from Areva of France for Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd’s Rajasthan Atomic Power Station (RAPS) units. Areva had, in December, signed a pact to offer 300 tonnes for India’s existing Pressurised Heavy Water Reactors (PHWRs). The ongoing fuel crunch has already forced a delay in the commissioning of two new units at the Rajasthan Atomic Power Station — RAPS 5 and 6 of 220 MW each — by nearly a year.
As an added relief, Russia’s state-owned nuclear fuel monopoly TVEL Corporation is set to close a deal to deliver 2,000 tonnes of uranium pellets to India, Government sources said. Under the protocol on fuel supplies finalised with Russia, TVEL would deliver low-enriched uranium supplies worth over $700 million to India, with an assurance of supplies to a number of the country’s PHWRs.
This includes uranium dioxide pellets for the Tarapur station. The Russian contract is likely to incorporate a long-term delivery schedule, possibly for a period of around 10 years, and an agreement to this effect is expected shortly. DAE is also holding talks on uranium supplies with Canada, Kazakhstan, and some African countries.
India had, on February 2, inked a specific safeguards agreement with the Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). India now has to ratify the agreement and communicate the same to the IAEA, formally clearing the way for fuel imports for facilities that are under the Agency’s safeguards.
Fuel shortages have already forced NPCIL’s stations to cut generation levels from an average 80 per cent plant load factor till about a couple of years ago to under 50 per cent currently. NPCIL has an installed capacity of 4,120 MW at present.
The lines of nuclear succession
The recent hospitalization of the Prime Minister exposed gaps in India’s control of its strategic forces
The United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government’s political management of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s hospitalization for a bypass surgery was decidedly shoddy. Beyond juggling timetables and finding one or the other leader to replace the Prime Minister at ceremonial functions, it was evident that national leadership was held hostage to the Congress party’s internal dynamics. Missing was the degree of professionalism and transparency in leadership that is expected for a nuclear power. Consider.
Up until the late 1980s, the question of “who is in charge” when the prime minister is indisposed or otherwise incapable of carrying out his duties was of academic interest. In practice, it didn’t matter: The business of government would continue because the cabinet would remain intact, the civil service permanent and the ruling party’s parliamentary majority unchanged. But with India’s nuclear weapons capability becoming operational in the last years of that decade, the question of “who is in charge” was no longer pedantic. Because the nuclear arsenal is unquestionably under civilian control, the question of succession became material for India’s national security.
That question took on an entirely higher level of importance after India decided to make its nuclear weapons capability explicit in May 1998. Now, those with historical knowledge of the country’s nuclear weapons programme hold that there has always been a clear—if secret—process governing the command and control of the nuclear arsenal, with the metaphorical red button unambiguously in the hands of the prime minister of the day. But after the formal induction of nuclear weapons and the announcement of the doctrine pertaining to their use, greater transparency on their governance was in order.
The need to institutionalize command and control of the nuclear weapons came to the fore in October 2000, when prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee underwent his first knee surgery in Mumbai. On that occasion, the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government moved a key part of the Prime Minister’s Office to Mumbai; but like almost all of his predecessors, Vajpayee did not officially designate one of his cabinet colleagues to act in his stead. It was announced that the cabinet committee on security (CCS)—then consisting of the home, external affairs, defence and finance ministers, and the deputy chairman of the Planning Commission—would take all decisions relating to national security. Notwithstanding these arrangements, Vajpayee retained control of the red button during the entire period of his hospitalization and convalescence. It is conceivable that the issue of nuclear command was one factor that determined Vajpayee’s decision not to appoint a senior colleague, presumably Lal Krishna Advani, as acting prime minister.
Subsequently, in January 2003, CCS institutionalized the governance of nuclear command and control by setting up the Nuclear Command Authority (NCA). NCA has a political council chaired by the prime minister that is the final authority on the use of nuclear weapons. It is advised by an executive council, headed by the national security adviser and consists of top bureaucrats. NCA’s directives are carried out by the Strategic Forces Command, headed by a general officer from the Armed Forces. While the exact composition of the political council has not been made public, it has been suggested that during the NDA government’s term in office, it was “in essence” the same as CCS. While announcing details about NCA, CCS attempted to strike a balance between transparency—assuring the world of civilian primacy and public accountability; and secrecy—protecting alternative chains of command and, thereby, strengthening nuclear deterrence.
After it took office in May 2004, the UPA government continued with these institutional arrangements. However, when Singh was hospitalized, it did not disclose the line of nuclear succession. The traditional Congress party organizational malaise was allowed to cloud the transparency required for effective governance of nuclear weapons.
First, India can no longer afford debates on whether or not it needs to define a line of succession for the political executive. Operational nuclear weapons and the consequent need for rapid, constitutionally legitimate and strategically sound decision making urgently call for it. In fact, the debate should move on to how to establish chains of constitutional and nuclear succession that best fit India’s political institutions and strategic situation. The leadership and line of succession of NCA’s political council should be unambiguous and transparent at all times. It must be institutional—merely appointing an acting chairman before the prime minister goes to hospital is a rather irresponsible way of going about it. Those in the line of succession must be briefed regularly and participate in periodic drills simulating various scenarios.
Second, the presence of at least five cabinet ministers in the political council also ensures that the most important decisions relating to the employment of nuclear weapons are carefully deliberated by elected and accountable individuals. The benefits of having such an institutional check are undermined if some individuals hold multiple portfolios. When Singh went to the hospital, it automatically resulted in the absence of two members of the political council, because he also held the finance portfolio. If assigning multiple portfolios to a minister was of questionable wisdom earlier, the requirements of nuclear governance effectively rule it out.
The nuclear factor thus calls for both the declaration of a line of succession as well as ensuring that key cabinet portfolios are entrusted to separate individuals. It renders unacceptable practices that have either become norms or are compulsions of coalition politics. Parties preparing for the coming general election, therefore, would do well to go beyond announcing their prime ministerial candidates. They should announce their leadership succession strategy and the line-up for key cabinet positions.
Nitin Pai is editor of Pragati—The Indian National Interest Review, a publication on strategic affairs, public policy and governance. Comments welcome at [email protected]
some really encouraging news
February 14, 2009
India Major Fast Breeder Program Kicking Into Higher Gear: Two Breeder Will Start Construction
Scientists and engineers at the Indira Gandhi Centre for Atomic Research (IGCAR) are hoping to save around Rs.5 billion (Rs.500 crore or $104 million) by modifying the design of four fast reactors nuclear power plants. With the experience gained from prototype that is being completed, the new projects can be completed in five years as against seven years. Two new fast breeders reactor will start construction shortly. The government has sanctioned construction of four more 500 MW fast reactors of which two will be housed inside the existing nuclear island at Kalpakkam and expected to be ready by 2020. Decision on locating the remaining two fast reactors is yet to be taken. The proposed reactors will also be powered by mixed oxide fuel - a blend of plutonium and uranium oxides - like the upcoming 500 MW prototype fast breeder reactor (PFBR) in the same complex.
Similarly, construction of the Fast Reactor Fuel Cycle Facility is expected to start soon.
With the Rs.35-billion prototype fast breeder reactor (PFBR) project progressing at good pace at Kalpakkam, 80 km from here, the Indian government has sanctioned building of four more 500 MW fast reactors.
A breeder reactor is one that breeds more material for a nuclear fission reaction than it consumes, so that the reaction - that ultimately produces electricity - can continue.
The Indian fast reactors will be fueled by a blend of plutonium and uranium oxide.
While the reactor will use fission plutonium for power production, it will also breed more plutonium than what it uses from the natural uranium.
The surplus plutonium from each fast reactor can be used to set up more such reactors and grow the nuclear capacity in tune with India's needs.
These reactors are also called fast spectrum reactors since the neutrons coming from the fission will not be moderated. Two of the proposed reactors will come up in Kalpakkam, the site for which has been approved, while the location for the remaining two are yet to be finalized.
According to Raj, the four reactors will be designed to last 60 years - an increase of 20 years over PFBR's current life span.
"The blueprint for the four oxide fuel fast reactors is ready. The roadmap for research and development will be ready next month," reactor engineering group director S.C. Chetal told IANS.
Detailing the cost-cutting steps, Chetal said: "The proposed reactors will be built as twin units. That means many of the facilities will be shared by the two reactors, which in turn saves capital and running costs."
For instance, there will be fewer welding points, making the reactors safer and more economical.
"The savings will be achieved from reduced material consumption through innovative design design," said P. Chellapandi, director, safety group.
Chellapandi said the safety vessel of the proposed reactors will be smaller than the one installed inside the PFBR's reactor vault: its diameter will be reduced to 11.5 metres from 12.9 metres.
"A reduction of one metre will result in an overall saving of Rs.25 crore (Rs.250 million) on material, fabrication and civil construction."
The new design fast reactors will have six steam generators as against eight in the PFBR and changes will be made in the grid plate, sodium and reactor shutdown systems.
policy statement is out:
No nuclear power plants for Pvt Cos till 2020
14 Feb 2009, 1931 hrs IST, Pradeep, ET Bureau
MUMBAI: Union minister for commerce & power Jairam Ramesh on Saturday said the private companies would not be allowed to set up nuclear
power plants till 2020.
"I do not foresee a role for the private sector in the first generation of production of nuclear power of 20,000 mega watt on strategic, safety, fuel and management grounds. Expansion of nuclear energy has necessarily to be based either on Nuclear Power Corporation of India (NPCIL) or on its joint venture with public entities as only such companies could take a 10 year perspective without worrying over cash flows, borrowings or meltdown," Mr Ramesh told reporters on Saturday. He was in Mumbai to attend the signing ceremony of a memorandum of understanding between the NPCIL and National Thermal Power Corporation.
A handful of private companies, including Reliance Power, GMR Energy, GVK Power & Infrastructure, Larsen & Toubro, were planning to set up nuclear power plants. They had put their plans on the fast track after the government announced its intention to amend the law to allow them in the nuclear power generation space. However, the minister's announcement will force the private companies to shelve their plans.
The minister said: "We should not go overboard on the role of private sector...it will come but this is not right time. Right now, the requirement is of our consolidation that will come through NPCIL and joint venture public entities," he asserted.
According to the minister, the total nuclear power generation in the country is set to reach 6,000 MW, within the next one year. The present nuclear power generation is only to the tune of 1,800 Mw, against an installed capacity of 4,120 Mw. Shortage of nuclear fuel has plagued the nuclear power sector, he said.
NPCIL and NTPC on Saturday signed an MoU to form the first public JV for nuclear power generation. NPCIL will hold a 51 % of the JV which is expected to be formalised in three months and targets to produce power of 2000 MW by 2017.
However, the details of the project such as the location and types of the plants will be finalised later. The cost of the project is estimated to be around Rs 14,000-15,000 crore, said Anil Kakodkar, chairman of Atomic Energy Commission and secretary of the department of atomic energy.
NPCIL has signed agreement with Bharat Heavy Electricals (BHEL) ) to sell India's largely indigenous 220 MW heavy water power reactor units overseas and is likely to form a joint venture with APGenco (Andhra Pradesh Generation Company). However, the proposal is at initial stages of discussions.
Nuclear power outlay rises
OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT
New Delhi, Feb. 16: The outlay for India’s nuclear power programme in the 2009-10 interim budget is 28 per cent more than the previous year while the allocation for atomic energy has contracted by Rs 129 crore.
The planned allocation for nuclear power schemes is up from a revised estimate of Rs 1,813 crore for 2008-09 to Rs 2,337 crore for 2009-10, with a significant proportion earmarked for building up the fuel inventory for nuclear power plants.
India has ordered 300 tonnes of uranium fuel from French company Areva for its nuclear plants under safeguards, expected to be delivered later this year. It has also ordered 2,000 tonnes from Russia which will be imported over several years. The budget allocation for the nuclear fuel inventory has gone up to Rs 953 crore for 2009-10, from Rs 583 crore last year.
A senior official at the Nuclear Power Corporation (NPC), the public-sector company that builds and operates India’s nuclear power reactors, said the budget increase this year was not intended for any new reactors.
“We’re budget-neutral, so our plans to build new nuclear reactors may not become visible in Union budget documents,” the official said. The NPC has said it will use its own internal resources and borrowed funds for new reactors.
But the outlay for atomic energy that covers key nuclear research centres and other institutions has reduced from last year’s revised estimate of Rs 4,964 crore to Rs 4,835 crore for 2009-10.
A senior scientist said the reduction in the allocation for atomic energy did not reflect any cuts in research programmes. “The procedure for government spending has become complicated over the years. The speed at which we can spend the funds has reduced,” the scientist said. “When the allocated funds don’t get used up during the year, it is reflected in the budget next year.”
The 2009-10 outlays for space and earth sciences are also more than 25 per cent higher than the previous year’s allocations. The department of space will get Rs 4,459 crore in 2009-10, against Rs 3,499 in 2008-09.
Nuclear-trade mission tours India
New Delhi, Mumbai targeted hot spots for U.S. nuke executives
Indus News Wire
MUMBAI, India – The U.S.-India Business Council concluded a five-day nuclear trade mission to New Delhi and Mumbai, India, in January.
The mission, which ran from January 11-16, was supported by the Nuclear Energy Institute and the U.S. Department of Commerce, and was led by Steve Hucik of GE-Hitachi Nuclear Energy. With more than 60 senior executives representing more than 30 world-leading commercial nuclear companies, the mission was the first commercial nuclear trade mission to visit India since the Nuclear Suppliers Group approved India for global commercial nuclear trade, according to the USIBC. It was also the largest ever mission mounted by the Washington-based organization.
"The robust presence here of the U.S. commercial nuclear industry, so soon after the unfortunate events in Mumbai, speaks to the commitment of our companies to partner with India in the coming nuclear renaissance," said Ted Jones, director for policy advocacy at USIBC.
The mission met with key Government of India officials and the top executives of the Nuclear Power Corp., the National Thermal Power Corp., and other leading public-sector organizations. It also met with counterparts among India's rising global companies via the Confederation of Indian Industry-USIBC Joint Task Force on Commercial Nuclear Cooperation, a group which has met since 2006 to identify and clear away obstacles to U.S.-Indian commercial nuclear trade.
The CII-USIBC Joint Task Force identified policy issues on both sides requiring attention in order for India to move toward its ambitious goals for expanding its nuclear generating capacity to 30,000 MW by 2020 and 60,000 MW by 2030. To enable Indian and U.S. private-sector companies alike to take part in the expansion, issues relating to nuclear liability and intellectual property protection, among others, need attention in India, according to the USIBC. On the U.S. side, the group has previously discussed U.S. export licensing procedures and the potential for U.S. companies to enter into commercial relationships with Indian manufacturing, contracting and service firms.
"We have considerable work yet to do, but we are happy to be at the stage of commercial engagement," said Jones.
The U.S. commercial nuclear industry leads the world in size, performance, innovation and engineering worldwide. The U.S. is the largest generator of nuclear electric power in the world – with 27 percent of the world's total installed capacity and nearly double the number of reactors as France. The U.S. also produces at roughly half to one-third of the cost in other major countries. In recent decades, U.S. reactor companies and civil nuclear engineering companies have remained at the forefront of innovation and engineering worldwide.
The nuclear mission arrived in India just months after the historic opening of India to civilian nuclear trade with the United States and the world. Announced on July 18, 2005 during the Washington visit of Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, the U.S.-India nuclear deal was finally consummated with the signing, on October 9, 2008, of the U.S.-India 123 Agreement by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Foreign Minister Pranab Mukherjee. The inking of the bilateral 123 Agreement capped a whirl of approvals – from the Indian Government's successful trust vote on July 20 to unanimous nods by the International Atomic Energy Agency and Nuclear Suppliers Group in September, to a final triumph in the U.S. Congress in early October 2008.
“We applaud the visionary and courageous leadership of India's political and scientific leaders,” Jones said. “That vision, supported by India's friends, finally put an end to India's nuclear isolation and made today's commercial engagement possible.”
U.S. industry, including many of the commercial nuclear suppliers on the recent nuclear mission, provided massive political support for the U.S.-India Civilian Nuclear Initiative, according to the USIBC. Through the USIBC-led Coalition for Partnership with India, U.S. industry joined with Indian Americans and policy experts to win final approval by the U.S. Congress for ending India's nuclear isolation.
The U.S.-India Business Council, formed in 1975 under the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, is a business advocacy organization representing 300 of the largest U.S. companies investing in India, joined by global Indian companies, whose mandate is to deepen U.S.-India commercial ties.
Now what you guys say about this. Grand deception or.......
No crisis, enough nuke fuel for 40 years: CAG
21 Feb 2009, 0106 hrs IST, Pradeep Thakur , TNN
NEW DELHI: In what could trigger a fresh war of words between the government and the Left parties, an independent official survey on the
country's estimated uranium reserves has revealed that the nuclear fuel stocks are enough to meet India's fuel supply for the next 40 years.
An audit on the management of fuel for Pressurized Heavy Water Reactors (PHWRs) — conducted by the Comptroller and Auditor General in light of reports of serious fuel crisis — has revealed that India has enough uranium reserves which were left unexplored due to "significant deficiencies in the strategic planning" by the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE).
The report says that as of September 2007, the estimated uranium reserves were about 1,07,268 tonnes while the fuel requirement of the 10,000 MWe PHWR programme, as planned by DAE till 2020, required around 1,01,600 tonnes for the entire lifespan of 40 years of these plants.
The report has pulled up authorities in DAE for their laxity in exploring identified mineral blocks. Most of these identified uranium blocks were left unexplored despite being handed over to the department concerned for mining 10 to 38 years ago, says the CAG report which was tabled in Parliament on Friday.
The CAG findings, incidentally, are on the lines of what the Left parties had been arguing all along in their opposition to the Indo-US nuclear deal.
CPM general secretary Prakash Karat had in his objection to the nuke deal alleged that the nuclear fuel crisis as projected by the UPA government was artificial and deliberately done to enter into a pact with the US.
The Left leaders had then sought explanation on the initial plan of the DAE's programme for generating 10,000 MWe with indigenous fuel supply and what led to the shortage when the country was still producing below 5,000 MW.
The CAG review has delved deep into the cause and found that mines in Meghalaya, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka at Domiasiat, Lambapur and Gogi respectively, had better grade deposits and were expected to deliver significant quantity of yellow cake per annum. However, there were "significant delays in opening of these mines which had adversely affected the timely supply of nuclear fuel to the PHWRs".
"Due to constraints in fuel supplies, the average capacity factors of nuclear plants were consistently brought down to 50% during 2003-08. The denial of the plants running at full capacity resulted in an estimated loss of about Rs 6,000 crore," the report says.
India to join WINS for nuclear security
Express News Service
First Published : 21 Feb 2009 12:54:00 AM IST
Last Updated : 21 Feb 2009 12:20:53 PM IST
KOCHI: India is proposing to join the World Institute for Nuclear Security (WINS) for sharing information on how to safeguard its nuclear installations.
"We have to prevent any undesirable elements from sabotaging or thieving," said M R Srinivasan, member and former chairman, Atomic Energy Commission.
Talking on the sidelines after delivering the keynote address at the 6th national seminar and technical fest, ‘Brahma-09’ organised by the Adi Shankara Institute of Engineering and Technology, Kalady, Srinivasan said that WINS is in the process of being set up and all members of the World Association of Nuclear Operators (WANO) will be its members.
Profiling India’s role in the international scenario, Srinivasan said that India had recently joined the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) to master a clean, cheap, safe and virtually inexhaustible form of energy by fusing atoms, rather than splitting them.
ITER, he said, will be an attempt to recreate the energy at the heart of the sun which would be built at Cadarache in Southern France.
Earlier, in his keynote address, Srinivasan said that India’s 22 nuclear reactors could only supply 4,000 MW of nuclear power because of the international embargo which left the country several years behind.
It would be able to generate 3,00,000 mw by 2050. Srinivasan said that the country needs to develop diverse energy systems like solar, wind and nuclear to meet the energy needs of future.
"We have to cut down on carbon emissions. He called on the younger generation to come up with new solutions to old problems like water and waste management and innovative answers for new problems like climate change.
"We have a trained manpower as far as the nuclear systems are concerned thanks to the vision of Dr Homi Bhabha who ensured that trained personnel were always readied for nuclear reactors. Fast Breed Reactors hold the key to the energy needs of the future. India will set up an Advanced Heavy Water Reactor which will generate 300 MW in its prototype phase and it will be fully functional in the next 4-5 years.
He said that the Indian industry is keen on making additional investments for big reactors which was not the case in the early years.
Earlier, college principal S G Iyer welcomed the gathering and B S Krishnan gave the presidential address. `Brahma-09’ includes a seminar on 3G/4G innovations and Spectrum issues. A technical festival, where students from several colleges and young engineers will compete is also being organised.
check the cag report guys
TOP ARTICLE | Prepare For Cut-off
23 Feb 2009, 0000 hrs IST, R Rajaraman
The coming years are likely to see a fissile materials treaty (FMT) emerging as a contentious issue in international politics. While addressing a
major threat to mankind, it would also have strategic implications for many nations. Although our government has been participating in FMT discussions at the Conference of Disarmament (CD) at Geneva, there has been little public discussion in India. It would be a pity if the intelligentsia and political groups wake up to the issue's nuances and implications only after the bulk of the negotiations are over, as happened with the Indo-US nuclear deal.
Fissile material (FM) refers to substances that, undergoing rapid nuclear fission, provide the explosive energy of nuclear weapons. These are primarily only plutonium and highly enriched uranium (HEU). Among a nuclear weapon's components, the most difficult to get hold of is its fissile material core. Plutonium and HEU are not available in nature. To get HEU, natural uranium extracted from mines has to be enriched in giant centrifuge plants. Plutonium has to be produced artificially by reprocessing the spent fuel of reactors. Both involve sophisticated and expensive technology subject to international restrictions.
Getting hold of FM is the biggest impediment to non-nuclear nations embarking on a nuclear weapons programme and to non-state actors assembling a weapon illicitly. To prevent proliferation, FM stock should be tightly safeguarded. Nuclear terrorism has emerged as a real possibility. Unfortunately, the world has accumulated about 1,670 tonnes of HEU. Over 95 per cent is in the US and Russia. The stock of separated weapon-usable plutonium is about 500 tonnes. The US has 92 tonnes. Russia's plutonium is estimated at 140 to 190 tonnes. The remaining 220-270 tonnes are spread around the world.
These are very large quantities indeed, considering it takes only about five kilograms of plutonium or 25 kg of HEU to make a typical Hiroshima-Nagasaki level weapon. All that terrorists have to do is to pilfer a tiny fraction to threaten a disaster far worse than any terrorist attack thus far. Although fully assembled nuclear weapons are stored very securely, the security and inventory management of FM are not as rigorous.
The goal of global nuclear disarmament also requires elimination of all FM. Even if all nuclear weapons on earth are destroyed, what is to prevent some groups from restarting production? Fortunately, FM are not readily available in nature. They must be manufactured in large and hard-to-conceal facilities. If the existing stock is secured or eliminated, it may be possible to police renewed production.
A treaty, ideally, would address ways to audit and safeguard existing stocks of FM, stop further production and eventually eliminate them. As a first step, it may just be a fissile material cut-off treaty (FMCT) banning further FM production. Securing and eliminating all existing stocks would be more ambitious. The need for a treaty has been realised from the beginning of the nuclear era. As far back as 1946, the UN Atomic Energy Agency recommended prohibiting manufacture and possession of FM. A General Assembly resolution was passed in 1957, but the Cold War prevented any progress until 1993. The CD then accepted the so-called Shannon Mandate to conduct negotiations for a treaty. But formal negotiations have not yet begun.
Several factors have stalled progress. The Chinese had insisted that FMCT negotiations be linked to PAROS, a treaty on arms race in space. They have now withdrawn this requirement. Others wanted a linkage with disarmament. There are also differences over the treaty's scope. Some would like compliance to be verifiable, while the Americans have argued that this would be too intrusive. Some nations would like the treaty to cover existing stocks. Pakistan feels a freeze on production will leave it with a permanent FM deficit vis-a-vis India.
Historically, India has supported a fissile material control regime. We co-sponsored UN General Assembly resolution 48/75L, in 1993, which contained the mandate to negotiate an FMCT. More recently, as part of the Indo-US agreement in 2005, India consented to "working with the United States for the conclusion of a multilateral Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty".
But if asked to sign an FMCT today, India would not be ready to do so. Willingness to cease production depends on a country's estimate of how large a nuclear arsenal it needs. This writer has been arguing for long that the FM we have already produced is sufficient to ensure deterrence against any sane adversary. But the government's nuclear strategists clearly feel differently. This was evident from India's insistence, while negotiating the Indo-US nuclear deal, that the fast breeder and six other power reactors be declared outside safeguards. That would make their output of FM available for building weapons. Pakistan is also continuing to produce FM in its Khushab reactors and Kahuta centrifuges.
By contrast, the US, UK, France and Russia have declared a unilateral moratorium on further FM production. China also seems to have stopped, without making an official declaration. These countries have been producing FM for several decades and stopping will not seriously affect their strategic capabilities. An FMCT will impact primarily India, Pakistan and Israel.
The five official nuclear powers may well soon agree on an FMCT, particularly if the new Barack Obama administration drops US objections to verification. If that happens, India, recently anointed a "responsible member" of the nuclear community by the Nuclear Suppliers Group, may come under pressure to join the ban. Hopefully, the government is preparing to meet that eventuality by making hard quantitative estimates of its strategic requirements and tailoring its FM production accordingly.
The writer is emeritus professor of physics, JNU.
DAE pulled up for nuclear fuel shortage
NEW DELHI: The Comptroller and Auditor-General of India (CAG) has rapped the Department of Atomic Energy for being unable to exploit the country’s uranium resources for running atomic power plants which led them to their being operated at half the capacity or less.
The country’s nuclear power plants operated at 80 per cent efficiency in 1999-2003 but power generation dropped considerably after an increase in the number of reactors. This was due to inadequate fuel available because of India’s isolation from the global commerce mainstream and the DAE’s inability to operationalise indigenous mines.
This fuel mismatch led to a continuing drop in efficiency despite the fact that uranium ore was available in large quantities in several States. The average capacity generation of pressurised heavy water reactors (PHWRs ) slumped from 80 per cent in 2002-03 to 72, 67, 64, and 50 per cent, respectively, during 2003-08.
“This resulted in the PHWRs operating at lower capacity and denying the nation the full benefits of clean nuclear energy to the extent of 21,845 million units corresponding to Rs. 5,986 crore calculated at an average tariff of Rs. 2.74 per unit,” the CAG report noted. It observed that the DAE based its fuel needs for 15 PHWRs on the availability of uranium rather than actual demand for running the atomic power units at maximum capacity. “The formal demand on nuclear fuel cycle was based more on the availability of uranium rather than on the requirement of the fuel for the PHWRs at its maximum capacity, to enable it to generate optimum nuclear power,” it noted in this respect.
The DAE, in its response said the CAG’s observations amounted to a “theoretical exercise that can lead to misleading conclusions” and pointed out that plants were being operated at lower levels to conserve fuel. While nuclear reactors were being constructed largely on schedule, the development of uranium mines got delayed primarily due to external factors. The DAE was trying its best to open new mines despite hurdles such as law and order issues and environmental clearances.
Unimpressed by the explanation, the CAG said the DAE’s “best efforts” were “belated” and did not yield the desired results. “The DAE, as the implementing department of the government of India for the nuclear power programme, needs to effectively address these factors referred by them as being external to them,” it felt.
The CAG also pulled up the DAE for seeking approval for constructing four new PHWR although there was shortage of uranium fuel. “The DAE had not linked or ensured availability of fuel to fully address the needs of the PHWR programme up to 2020.”
India can be largest supplier of tritium: Kakodkar
Mumbai: India can be the largest supplier of tritium for the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER), Atomic Energy Commission Chairman Anil Kakodkar said on Tuesday.
"Although we suffered a shortage of uranium, we are surplus in heavy water production and thus we can be the world supplier in tritium, which is crucial for the world's first fusion experimental reactor (ITER), in which India has an important role," Kakodkar said, on the occasion of 'Heavy Water Day' at Anushakti Nagar in Mumbai.
He also asked the Heavy Water Board, an arm of the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) to be prepared for marketing one of its new ventures on Enriched Boron that will be used in Fast Breeder Reactors.
The Heavy Water Board has diversified into a variety of products and some of these are at the Research and Development stage while some are in the production stage including that of enriched Boron, sodium metal, oxygen 18 and several specialised solvents.
"After surplus production of heavy water, we may suffer a problem of plenty in case of Enriched Boron too," Kakodkar said adding, "India has enough Enriched Boron for the Prototype Fast Breeder Reactor that is coming up in Kalpakkam.
Uranium exploration in a mess
From Kalyan Ray, DH News Service, New Delhi:
The fuel roadmap prepared by the Uranium Corporation of India Ltd (UCIL) planned exploiting only 79 per cent of the fuel need between 2008-09 and 2016-17.
The acute fuel shortage crippling the nuclear power plants has largely been precipitated by none other than the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) by delaying operations in new uranium mines including Gogi in Karnataka.
The DAE appears not to have a clear idea on the country’s fuel needs even though it has set a target to produce 20,000 MWe of nuclear power by 2020.
The fuel roadmap prepared by the Uranium Corporation of India Ltd (UCIL) planned exploiting only 79 per cent of the fuel need between 2008-09 and 2016-17. “The roadmap is silent on the source of the remaining fuel. It was made in June 2001 when the Indo-US nuclear deal was nowhere in sight. This happened because various DAE agencies work in silos,” sources told Deccan Herald.
Interestingly, the UCIL plan was incorporated in a DAE report on the nuclear power programme up to 2020, which specified annual and cumulative fuel requirement for pressurised heavy water reactors from 2001-02 to 2021-22.
“No production strategy was envisaged by UCIL beyond 2016-17. Between 2001-02 and 2007-08, UCIL planned exploitation of only 46 per cent of the requirement,” the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) says in its report tabled in Parliament last week. This means while DAE has plans to produce 20,000 MWe of electricity, it did not have ideas from where bulk of the fuel will come. Take the example of Sikar mine. While Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd (NPCIL) harped on making Sikar operational between 2009 and 2011, newer DAE documents are completely silent on this Rajasthan mine.
Rather DAE now pins its hopes on high ore-grade mines like Domiasiat (Meghalaya), Lambapur (Andhra Pradesh) and Gogi (Karnataka) as well as exploiting some of Jharkhand such as Bagjata, Turamdih and Mohuldih, despite their poor ore quality.
NPCIL visualised an operational Gogi mine by 2008-09. But DAE states that exploratory mining will continue at Gogi and the delay has been attributed to the erratic nature of the ore body. Feasibility of constructing the mine and mill with all ancillary requirement of land at Gogi and mining lease issues are being examined.
All these indicate poor long-term planning of DAE. In fact, poor planning has also resulted in a big mismatch between the mining and milling capacities at Jadugoda. While the installed mining capacity in four mines in the region together stands at 8,55,000 tonnes of uranium ore per day, the capacity for the solitary milling plant is 6,27,000 tonnes per day – an overall shortage of 22.66 per cent.
As a result, 93,472 tonnes of uranium ore was pending for milling as of March, 2007, the CAG report notes. A second milling unit is now under construction. When operational, the second mill can ease the ongoing fuel crisis.
For a long time, Domiasiat with its high-grade uranium was projected as a solution to the shortage.
But the project is yet to be approved by the government, revealed the CAG report. The new target date for the Meghalaya mine is 2012. UCIL took as long as 12 years in preparing the detailed project report on Domiasiat and 14 years to make the environment impact assessment and management plan.
DAE took 3 years to obtain the environment clearance from the union environment ministry due to “submission of incomplete application and procedural delays”, notes the CAG report.
Homi Bhabha, a visionary scientist and a great human being
Bangalore (IANS): When technician Narasimha Murthy, a glass blower in the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE), developed a major heart problem, its then chairman Homi Bhabha arranged to fly him to the United States to receive medical care - all at government expense.
And when Bhabha saw a gardener in the DAE's Trombay campus walking with a limp, he stopped his car, gave him a lift, and instructed his staff that he was to be looked after.
A collection of reminiscences by Bhabha's close associates brought out by the Indian Physics Association (IPA) on his birth centenary year shows that the father of India's atomic energy programme was not just a visionary scientist and an institution builder but also a great human being.
"Examples of sensitive and human approach in his dealing with even the lowest paid employees are numerous," said Vasudeva Iya, who was in charge of DAE's isotope programme and one of Bhabha's hand-picked scientists.
Padmanaba Krishnagopala Iyengar, who later became DAE secretary, agreed with Iya. When DAE administrators, citing service rules, denied travel money for a junior scientist to present a paper at a conference abroad, Bhabha admonished the bureaucrats and reversed the decision, recollected Iyengar, who knew Bhabha from 1953 till his tragic death.
Bhabha died on Jan 24, 1966, in an air crash while he was on his way to attend an International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) meeting in Vienna. The cause of the crash remains a mystery.
"If he had not perished in the air crash, we would have quite a different India today," said Devendra Lal, a renowned geophysicist who rejected a faculty job in the US to join Bhabha's team in 1960.
In a way, World War II was responsible for the strides India has made today in the field of atomic energy. Bhabha, who came to India on a brief holiday in 1939, could not return to England as war had broken out. So he decided to stay back in India till the war was over.
"That decision turned out to be a turning point not only in the academic career of Bhabha but also for the advancement Indian science and technology in the post independence era," writes Badanaval Venkata Sreekantan, a cosmic ray physicist who joined Bhabha in 1948.
Bhabha's five-year stint from 1939 at the Indian Institute of Science here changed his plans to return to Britain.
"I have come to the view that provided proper appreciation and financial support are forthcoming, it is one's duty to stay in one's own country and build up schools comparable with those that other countries are fortunate in possessing," Bhabha wrote in his famous March 12, 1944, letter to the Tata Trust for funds to start a new institute.
From then on, Bhabha passionately took on the task to transform Indian science, says Lal.
"Bhabha sacrificed his personal scientific career to spend most of his time to grow science and technology in India," Lal said. "Bhabha's stamp is visible everywhere.... He realised most of what he dreamed between 1939 and 1965 but was not alive to watch them grow."
He set up the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR) with support from the Tatas, and convinced then prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru to create the DAE, both of which he managed admirably till his death.
The Tata memorial centre in Bombay (now Mumbai), the radio astronomy centre in Ooty and the training school in Bombay were all due to his farsightedness, says Malur Ramaswamy Srinivasan, Bhabha's close associate and former DAE secretary.
Bhabha was also largely responsible for the introduction of the space programme through the setting up of the Indian national committee for space research under the chairmanship of Vikram Sarabhai, said Srinivasan.
Former DAE physicist Ganesan Venkartaraman says that being a visionary, Bhabha promoted everything from computers to vacuum technology, ignoring criticism from "some narrow minded scientists" who questioned the propriety of DAE wanting to do everything.
Renowned geneticist Obaid Siddiqui recalls that although the 1962 Indo-China war had broken out and emergency economic measures had been announced, Bhabha encouraged him to start the molecular biology programme at TIFR using the money the institute saved from expenses on water and electricity. That programme has now evolved into full-fledged National Centre for Biological Sciences in Bangalore.
Bhabha's style of management was another thing that endeared him to scientists. "He did not believe in micromanagement. He selected able persons to lead and left them alone," said Lal.
One advice of Bhabha that Lal cherishes most: "Never give an important task to one who has nothing to do. Give it to a busy person who will find time to do it."
"Bhabha freed DAE from bureaucracy while scientists outside DAE are still fighting this battle to be freed from stifling bureaucratic controls," said Venkataraman.
"Goku" (M.G.K) Menon vividly recalls his last meeting with Bhabha "to talk about some important matters" a day before his tragic death.
The important matter was that Indira Gandhi - selected to become prime minister only four days earlier - had asked Bhabha to be ready to move to Delhi "to assist her in all matters related to science and technology" with a rank equivalent to a cabinet minister.
Before embarking on his fateful journey to Vienna, Bhabha told Menon that on his return, he planned to propose Menon to be director of TIFR.
"Everyone thought I got the responsibility because of his death," Menon wrote, adding this was not the case.
"Had he returned from his trip to Vienna he would have anointed me his successor as director of TIFR."
Bhabha's widely quoted remark "no power is as expensive as no power" at the third UN conference on peaceful uses of atomic energy in Geneva in September 1964 registered with many from underdeveloped countries aspiring to tame nuclear energy.
"Icons like Bhabha appear only rarely," said Bikash Sinha, director of DAE's cyclotron project in Kolkata. Nobel Laureate Chandrasekhar Venkataraman described Bhabha as the modern equivalent of Leonardo da Vinci.
Bhabha was so concerned about his scientists that he did not want them to travel abroad in the same flight since, "in case the plane crashed, it would be a big loss to TIFR", says Lal.
"Ironically, and very sadly, we lost him in a plane crash."
Thorium Power, Ltd. (THPW.OB: 0.241 -3.60%) develops, promotes and markets its three nuclear fuel designs and is making some big waves in the developing world. The firm has become the first U.S. nuclear energy company to enter India after the nations’ civil energy agreement late last year. The 50% joint venture with Punj Lloyd, an Indian engineering firm, involves the use of thorium fuel for nuclear energy.
Thorium fuel is good for India as the country as either the most or second most thorium after Australia. Nuclear energy suppliers have been racing to enter India after the Nuclear Supplier Group, an international organization representing companies that supply nuclear energy, lifted its embargo on India in August of last year. The embargo had been in place for around 30 years.
Thorium is seen as one of the most viable solutions to bringing nuclear capabilities to the developing nations. The technology offers enhanced proliferation-resistance of spent fuel by stopping the reactor from producing nuclear weapons-usable plutonium. It also offers significantly reduced long-term radio-toxicity of spent fuel, improved economics and increased safety over traditional reactors.
Meanwhile, Thorium Power remains one of the premier players in this niche market. The company offers advisory services for countries seeking to establish nuclear programs. Comprehensive strategic planning and advisory services for new and growing existing markets has allowed the company to quickly expand. The entry into the growing Indian market could mark a turning point.
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