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

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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)

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15 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About BARC

Homi Bhabha was the man looking after the entire progress of research facility. He was known for devising the correct expression for scattering electrons, by a process called as ‘Bhabha scattering’.

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The Core philosophy of BARC is the peaceful application of nuclear energy, but nuclear bombs are just as important for peace. Wikimedia Commons
The Core philosophy of BARC is the peaceful application of nuclear energy, but nuclear bombs are just as important for peace. Wikimedia Commons
  • BARC’s core mandate is to sustain peaceful applications of nuclear energy, primarily for power generation
  • BARC operates a number of research reactors across the country
  • BARC designed India’s very first pressurized water reactor of 80mw capacity at Kalpakkam facility

The Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC) is India’s premier nuclear research facility based in Trombay, Mumbai, and Maharashtra. BARC is a research centre for advanced research and development covering the nuclear science and related areas. BARC’s core mandate is to sustain peaceful applications of nuclear energy, primarily for power generation.

The Core philosophy of BARC is the peaceful application of nuclear energy, but nuclear bombs are just as important for peace.

BARC manages all aspects of nuclear power generation, from the theoretical design of reactors, computerised modelling, risk analysis, development and testing of new reactor fuel materials, etc. It also conducts research in spent fuel processing, and safe disposal of nuclear waste. Its other research focus areas are applications for isotopes in industries, medicine, agriculture, etc. BARC operates a number of research reactors across the country.

BARC till date has successfully established multiple 5 Power Reactors. Wikimedia Commons
BARC till date has successfully established multiple 5 Power Reactors. Wikimedia Commons

Homi Bhabha was the man looking after the entire progress of research facility. He was known for devising the correct expression for scattering electrons, by a process called as ‘Bhabha scattering’. According to reports, Homi Bhabha died in a mysterious air crash. There are assassination conspiracy theories going around the corners that the plane by which Bhabha was travelling was brought down by the CIA. Only a bag with unimportant documents was found from the site and rest everything was missing.

Also Read: Transforming Human Race: Human to TransHuman to PostHuman

  1. BARC handles all facets of nuclear power generation in India. From Designing of reactors, modelling, risk analysis and simulation, it all happens here. Just another day at work!
  2. BARC was earlier known as Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) and was created in 1954. Scientists at that time were brought in from Tata Institute of Fundamental Research. The name was changed to BARC (Bhabha Atomic Research Center) to honour Homi J. Bhabha.
  1. While the freedom struggle was on, Homi J. Bhabha started his career in nuclear physics in the UK, in 1939. Homi Bhabha– Father of Indian Nuclear Program – was visiting India in 1939 on a holiday. He chose to stay back and revive its fortunes in nuclear energy.
  2. BARC till date has successfully established multiple 5 Power Reactors. Initially, the first power reactors were brought from America. But now, India is now fully equipped to carry on research and designing of nuclear reactors independently. Apsara in 1956 was the first reactor. CIRUS was another reactor provided by Canada. India used the spent fuel from CIRUS for conducting the 1st nuclear test in 1974. You can thank Canada for the CIRUS and USA for heavy water. Though they actually didn’t like India’s success in the nuclear field.
  3. BARC designed India’s very first pressurized water reactor of 80mw capacity at Kalpakkam facility.
  4. BARC employees cannot even carry a silly SIM card inside the premises. People here work from the everlasting captivity of gadgets.
  5. A total of 3,887 health-related deaths in the atomic energy hubs across the country over the last 20 years were due to cancer.

    Homi Bhabha was the man looking after the entire progress of research facility. Wikimedia Commons
    Homi Bhabha was the man looking after the entire progress of research facility. Wikimedia Commons
  6. Nearly one scientist/officer per month on an average in the last 20 years took his or her life. As per the Investigations, the infamous chain of events was either due to family problems or prolonged illness. Sad but true.
  7. BARC played a significant role in making India the 6th country in the world to have a nuclear submarine. India does boast about being one of the very few nations, who have nuclear strike capability from land, air and sea. The submarine developed by our scientist can go untraced from one end of Indian Ocean to the other without being traced and it adds muscles to India’s second strike capability. Needless to mention, India adheres to no-first policy for nuclear warfare.
  8. In the context of Civilian Research, BARC scientist has successfully developed 15 new varieties of groundnuts. That includes 3 varieties of mustard, 2 of soybean, 8 of greengram, 5 of blackgram and many more. The recently produced large seed mutant varieties rewarded many farmers, traders and exporters by virtue of their moderate seed dormancy and superior productivity.
  9. BARC has decided to establish 3 multi-million and multi-products plants in Punjab. The facilities will be fully equipped to handle the crop diversification needs of the state. The facility will be used for the processing of high yielding varieties of potatoes, sugarcane and maize.
  10. BARC and ECIL have jointly developed an IDSN (Indian Deep Space Antenna System) that will be used for reception of data from Chandrayaan-1.
  11. Dhruva reactor developed at BARC is Pride of the Nation. Dhruva reactor is the most crucial achievement of BARC till date as this reactor is totally designed, commissioned and constructed by Indians. The thing that makes it special is the fact that the reactor uses heavy water as coolant and uranium as a fuel.
  12. BARC has developed an indigenous tool for detection of Fluoride levels in groundwater. More than 1,000 companies all over India have already adopted this new technology, and more are ready to make a go for it. This tool enables companies to detect fluoride levels in water, in order to protect people from related diseases.
BARC handles all facets of nuclear power generation in India. Wikimedia Commons
BARC handles all facets of nuclear power generation in India. Wikimedia Commons

Also Read: All You Need to Know About Jagadish Chandra Bose

Despite the tight budgets and lack of support from foreign countries, BARC was successful in putting atoms in the service of the nation.

Salutes to all people who worked tirelessly at BARC over the years to achieve one milestone after another!