India choked by nuclear fuel shortage

13 June 2008

[Bloomberg 4 June, Hindu 8 June] Indian nuclear power plants are running at about half of capacity due to a chronic shortage of nuclear fuel. The situation is expected to persist for several years unless the civil nuclear agreement with USA proceeds, though some easing this year is likely due to the new Turamdih mill in Jharkhand state coming on line (the mine there is already operating). Several new reactors have had start-up dates postponed due to the fuel shortage. Political opposition has delayed new mines in Jharkhand, Meghalaya and Andhra Pradesh. Fuel for the large Russian reactors being constructed at Kudankulam has started arriving from Russia, but these are not expected to start up until late next year. The deal with the USA which would allow India to import uranium from that country at least has been stalled by opposition from communist groups in the coalition government. Meanwhile, time is running out in the USA to push the deal through before the end of George Bush's Presidency in November.