Wednesday, 1 April 2009

Uranium: India gets biggest-ever nuclear consignment

Syed Akbar
Hyderabad, March 31: In the biggest-ever nuclear consignment, India
on Tuesday received 60 tons of uranium from French nuclear supplier
AREVA NC. This forms part of the 300 tons of uranium ore
concentrate, which India will get under Indo-French bilateral
agreement in the aftermath of clearance by Nuclear Suppliers Group.

The remaining nuclear consignment will reach the country later this
month. India will also get 120 tons of uranium ore from Russia in the
next few days.

RN Jayaraj, chief executive of city-based Nuclear Fuel Complex, which
handles this uranium ore for conversion into nuclear reactor grade
pellets, told reporters that "India has wonderful days ahead".

Though NFC supplies nuclear fuel to 15 Pressurised Heavy Water
Reactors and two boiling water reactors, the present nuclear
consignment will be used only in two reactors covered under
"safeguards domain" as per Indo-US nuclear deal and 123 agreement.
The reactors, where the imported fuel is used, are open for international

The French consignment and the proposed Russian nuclear supplies
will boost India's plans to generate green energy from uranium. The 60
tons of fuel India got on Tuesday will generate 256 crore units of

The material from AREVA NC will be processed in the designated fuel
plants at NFC. The uranium ore concentrate is converted into nuclear
grade pellets and sintered at high temperature to get high density
uranium dioxide pellets. These pellets are stacked and encapsulated in
thin walled tubes of zirconium alloy. Nineteen such fuel pins are
assembled to form a fuel bundle for PHWR 220 megawatt plants. The
bundles so produced will be loaded in the safeguarded nuclear plants,
he said.

By 2030 the country's installed nuclear capacity could grow to 63,000

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