2017 "exceptional" for India Department of Atomic Energy

20 August 2018

The public sector undertakings and industrial units of India's Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) performed "exceptionally well" in 2017, DAE chairman and secretary Sekhar Basu said at celebrations marking the 71st anniversary of Indian independence on 15 August.

Sekhar Basu hoists the flag on Independence Day at DAE's Mumbai headquarters

Nuclear generator Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd's (NPCIL's) 2017 profit of INR3367 crore (USD482 million) was its highest ever; Uranium Corporation of India Ltd (UCIL) achieved its highest ever production; and fuel cycle company Nuclear Fuel Complex (NFC) achieved 115% of its target production for the year, Basu said.

Notable nuclear power sector achievements included the longest operating run for the Kaiga 1 pressurised heavy water reactor (PHWR), which has now achieved over 826 days of continuous operation taking it to third in the world, he said. Basu also highlighted the start of excavations and equipment ordering for two 700 MWe PHWRs at Gorakhpur; the signature in March 2018 with EDF of the Industrial Way Forward agreement for the establishment of six EPR units in Jaitapur; and the tripartite agreement between Bangladesh, India, and Russia for the establishment of Bangladesh's Rooppur nuclear power plant, for which India is also providing technical support. Discussions with Westinghouse on six AP1000 reactors for Kovvada are continuing, Basu said.

Achievements in the uranium sector included securing forestry clearance for the Jaduguda plant and environmental clearance for the Musubani plant in Jharkand, which will produce uranium as a by-product from copper tailings. "These milestones will lead to a good rise in uranium production in India," he said.

The Atomic Minerals Directorate for Exploration and Research has established "over 3 lakh tons of U3O8 resources," Basu said (one lakh is 100,000). Two "smaller" uranium deposits have been established at Jahaj in Rajasthan and Kanchankayi in Karnataka, he noted. "We are now concentrating on stepping up exploration activies," he added.

Basu also highlighted approval for cost escalation for India's involvement in the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) project, which he said would help the country speed up its work towards its in-kind supply commitments.

An intergovernmental agreement on a neutrino physics collaboration, signed with the USA's Fermilab in April, has opened the possibility of for in-kind contributions by the two countries to each other's neutrino projects, Basu said.

A major refurbishment of the Dhruva research reactor was completed in a "compact time schedule" of 65 days. This was achieved without disrupting deliveries of radioisotopes to cancer hospitals through a "professional approach, systematic planning and efficient execution," Basu said.

Basu ended his address by acknowledging the DAE's Secretariat for their "exceptional" efforts during the year in handling "crucial" issues "in spite of roadblocks".

Researched and written by World Nuclear News