Monday December 18, 2017
Home India India’s...

India’s research reactor not covered under nuclear insurance pool, says BARC director

0
142

npp

Chennai: India’s research reactors will not be covered under the newly set-up nuclear insurance pool as they are owned by the union government, a top official of the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC), has said.

“The Rs.1,500 crore ($234 million) India Nuclear Insurance Pool, is mainly for power plants operated by Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd (NPCIL). The reactors operated by research institutions do not come under the insurance pool,” BARC director Sekhar Basu told a media outlet.

Basu is also a member of the Atomic Energy Commission and a director in NPCIL.

“The research reactors are very small. Furthermore, the research institutions are owned by the central government. And governments do not generally take out an insurance policy on its properties,” Basu added.

BARC’s two operational test reactors are: the 100 MW and a very low-power Advanced Heavy Water Reactor (AHWR).

Basu said what is applicable to BARC, applies equally to the research reactors operated by the Indira Gandhi Centre for Atomic Research (IGCAR), at Kalpakkam, around 80 km from there.

The IGCAR operates two small research reactors – fast breeder test reactor (FBTR) and Kamini.

According to Basu, the upcoming 500 MW prototype fast breeder reactor (PFBR) expected to go on stream this year, would come under the insurance cover once it starts the nuclear fission process.

The government-owned Bharatiya Nabhikiya Vidyut Nigam Ltd. (BHAVINI) is setting up the country’s first indigenously designed 500 MW PFBR at Kalpakkam.

A breeder reactor is one that breeds more material for a nuclear fission reaction than it consumes. The PFBR will be fuelled by a blend of plutonium and uranium oxide, called MOX fuel.

The Central Government recently announced the setting up of the Rs.1,500-crore India Nuclear Insurance Pool to be managed by national reinsurer GIC Re.

The GIC Re, and four other government-owned general insurers, and also some private general insurers have provided the capacity to insure the risks to the tune of around Rs.1,000 crore and the remaining Rs.500 crore capacity has been obtained from the British Nuclear Insurance Pool.

The losses or profits in the pool would be shared by the insurers in the ratio of their agreed risk capacity.

Foreign nuclear plant suppliers were reluctant to sell their plants to India, citing the provisions of Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage Act (CLND) 2010 that provides the right of recourse to NPCIL against the vendors under certain circumstances for compensation in case of an accident.

The insurance pool was formed as a risk transfer mode for the suppliers and also NPCIL.

All the 21 operating nuclear power plants in India owned and operated by NPCIL, are expected to come under public liability insurance cover from next month onwards, a senior official of New India Assurance Company Ltd said.

The insurance cover would also extend to the 1,000 MW nuclear power plant at Kudankulam in Tamil Nadu which was built with Russian equipment.

“We are planning to issue a single policy covering all the 21 nuclear power units of NPCIL, including the one in Kudankulam. The premium will be paid by NPCIL and the policy will be issued in its name,” he said.

According to him, the final premium has not been arrived at but it will be between Rs.100 crore and Rs.150 crore.

He said the proposed policy would cover the liability towards public as a consequence of any nuclear accident in the plants covered under the policy and also the right of recourse of NPCIL against the equipment suppliers. (IANS)

Next Story

India has 75-125 nuclear weapons: US report

0
82

Washington: Suggesting that India has a sizeable nuclear weapons effort, a US think tank estimated India’s nuclear arsenal at around 75-125 weapons made from weapon-grade plutonium and perhaps some thermonuclear weapons.

India has a substantial stock of nuclear weapons made from weapon-grade plutonium, and perhaps some thermonuclear weapons that rely on both weapon-grade plutonium and weapon-grade uranium,” according to the Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS).

“An estimate of India’s nuclear arsenal can be derived by considering its weapon-grade plutonium stock,” it said. “The resulting estimate has a median of 138 nuclear weapons equivalent with a range of 110 to 175 weapons equivalent.”

However, the actual number of nuclear weapons India built from its stocks of weapon-grade plutonium must be less, ISIS said.

“When accounting for the amount of plutonium in the weapons production pipelines and in reserves, it is reasonable to assume that only about 70 percent of the estimated stock of weapon-grade uranium is in nuclear weapons,” it said.

Thus, the predicted number of weapons made from its weapon-grade plutonium at the end of 2014 is about 97 with a range of 77-123,” ISIS said. “These values are rounded to 100 nuclear weapons with a range of 75-125 nuclear weapons.”

The think tank also noted that India has one of the largest nuclear power programmess among developing nations.

Utilising plutonium produced in these power reactors and discharged in irradiated or spent fuel, India has developed a relatively large civil plutonium separation programme and an associated fast breeder reactor programme that is using that separated plutonium, the report said.

For its “sizeable nuclear weapons effort”, ISIS said, India uses “separated plutonium produced primarily in a set of small, dedicated reactors and a smaller amount produced in nuclear power reactors.”

“It has a growing gas centrifuge programme able to produce significant amounts of highly enriched uranium (HEU) mostly for naval reactor fuel and perhaps for nuclear weapons, including thermonuclear weapons,” it said.

Despite many obstacles, India has managed over several decades to put in place a relatively large nuclear weapons production complex, the report said.

“Its current complex can produce plutonium and highly enriched uranium for nuclear weapons and nuclear powered submarines,” ISIS said. “It has a sophisticated missile production complex that provides the delivery systems for its nuclear weapons.”

Indian nuclear weapons use weapon-grade plutonium,” the report said. “The bulk of this plutonium for nuclear weapons has come from the Cirus and Dhruva heavy water reactors, both located at the Bhabba Atomic Research Centre (BARC) in Mumbai.”

ISIS cited an unnamed senior US official as saying that “after the 1998 tests, India used its civil power reactors to ‘surge’ weapon-grade plutonium production for its nuclear weapons programme.”

India explained to US officials at that time that it needed to build up its weapons plutonium stock after the 1998 tests before it engaged in negotiations for a Fissile Materials Cutoff Treaty (FMCT), negotiations which have still not come to fruition,” the report said.

It may have subsequently produced additional weapon-grade plutonium for nuclear weapons in its civil power reactors, it said

“Although generally India is not believed to use reactor-grade plutonium in nuclear weapons, Indian nuclear experts are reported to have evaluated this plutonium’s use in nuclear weapons and India may have decided to create a reserve stock of reactor-grade plutonium for possible use in nuclear weapons,” the report suggested.

(By Arun Kumar,IANS)

Next Story

Kudankulam n-reactor to restart generation in December

0
23

Chennai: India’s atomic power company Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd (NPCIL) is likely to restart its first 1,000 MW unit at Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project (KNPP) only in December this year, said a source.

The source, not wanting to be named, told IANS: “The first unit is expected to restart generation only in December. The second unit may take longer time to start power generation.”

The NPCIL is building two 1,000 MW atomic power plants with Russian equipment at an outlay of over Rs.17,000 crore.

The first unit was connected to the southern grid in December 2014. The unit was operating at 60 percent capacity for some time before it was shut down for annual maintenance.

At the time of its shut down in June, NPCIL said the unit will restart after 60 days post annual maintenance and refuelling.

According to Power System Operation Corporation Ltd (PSOC), the KNPP first unit is expected to restart power generation on October 30. But this deadline is expected to be breached again.

Atomic Energy Commission chairman Sekhar Basu recently told IANS that as per current indications, the first KNPP unit is expected to restart later this year and the second unit would go on stream sometime next year.

He also said the restart of the first unit may happen this December.

Basu said lot of checks have to be carried out as the first KNPP unit was shut down for the first time since it started generating power.

Despite the unit being first of its kind in the country and that it has been shut down regularly, the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB) this year issued a five year operating licence for the plant.

Normally AERB issues operating licence for a year if the plant is first of its kind in the country and based on the test reports the licence would be renewed, an NPCIL official told IANS earlier.

Despite several attempts by IANS, KNPP’s site director R.S. Sundar was not available for clarifications.

(IANS)