Kalpakkam's fast breeder reactor, India

This Prototype Fast Breeder Reactor of 500MW is still not ready by 2016. Such reactors have been discontinued in other countries but they receive government investments in India. Local and national protests are muted so far.


Description

Back in 2006 India wanted to expand its nuclear power by 15 times (from 4,120 MW to 63,000 MW) by 2032, according to the Planning Commission's 2006 integrated energy policy report. In percentage of the total energy mix, the nuclear share would double from 3 per cent to 6 per cent. "We hope to touch 7,000 MW by next year," said then S K Jain, chairman and managing director of India's public sector nuclear utility Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited. There was however a problem with uranium supplies.

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Basic Data
NameKalpakkam's fast breeder reactor, India
CountryIndia
ProvinceTamil Nadu
SiteKalpakkam
Accuracy of LocationHIGH local level
Source of Conflict
Type of Conflict (1st level)Nuclear
Type of Conflict (2nd level)Nuclear waste storage
Nuclear power plants
Specific CommoditiesElectricity
Project Details and Actors
Project DetailsIndia’s first 500-MWe Prototype Fast Breeder Reactor (PFBR) at Kalpakkam, around 70 km to the South of Chennai, is expected to become critical in March or April 2016. The reactor is cooled by sodium.

This PFBR uses MOX fuel, which is a combination of plutonium and uranium oxide. It is built by Bharatiya Nabhikiya Vidyut Nigam Ltd. (BHAVINI), a government-owned corporation of India established in 2004 in Chennai. It is wholly owned by the Union Government and is responsible for the construction, commissioning and operation of all Stage II fast breeder reactors envisaged as part of the country’s three stage nuclear power programme. BHAVINI is administered by the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE).

In the first stage, India already has 18 conventional PHWRs which use natural uranium as fuel. The spent uranium from these reactors is reprocessed to obtain Plutonium-239. The second stage aims at building breeder reactors using this Plutonium-239 and uranium as fuel.

Conventional nuclear reactors are run by the Nuclear Power Corporation of India (NPCIL) while the Prototype Fast Breeder Reactor (PFBR) is a 500 MWe fast breeder nuclear reactor being constructed at the Madras Atomic Power Station in Kalpakkam, India.

The Indira Gandhi Centre for Atomic Research (IGCAR) is responsible for the design of this reactor. As of 2007 the reactor was expected to begin functioning in 2010 but now it is expected to achieve first criticality in September 2015.

Total costs, originally estimated at 3500 crore (35 billion Rupees, 450 million euros) are now estimated at 5,677 crore (750 million euros).

The power island of this project is being engineered by Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited, largest power equipment utility of India.

The authorities assert that the surplus plutonium produced by each fast reactor can be used to set up more such reactors and grow the nuclear capacity in tune with India’s needs for power.
Project Area (in hectares)2500
Level of Investment (in USD)900,000,000
Type of PopulationSemi-urban
Company Names or State EnterprisesBHAVINI (BHAVINI) from India
Bharatiya Nabhikiya Vidyut Nigam Ltd (BHAVINI) from India
Relevant government actorsGovernment of India

Department of Atomic Energy (DAE)

Indira Gandhi Centre for Atomic Research (IGCAR)
Environmental justice organisations and other supportersCoalition for Nuclear Disarmament and Peace, a national network of over 200 organizations

Dianuke, DIALOGUES and RESOURCES on Nuclear, Nature and Society. A resource page on nuclear issues, with special focus on India's nuclear expansion, http://www.dianuke.org/
The Conflict and the Mobilization
Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)LATENT (no visible organising at the moment)
Groups MobilizingLocal ejos
Neighbours/citizens/communities
Local scientists/professionals
Forms of MobilizationMedia based activism/alternative media
Street protest/marches
Impacts
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Other Environmental impacts
Potential: Air pollution, Fires, Soil contamination, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality
OtherRisk of nuclear accident
Health ImpactsVisible: Exposure to unknown or uncertain complex risks (radiation, etc…)
Potential: Occupational disease and accidents, Other environmental related diseases
Socio-economic ImpactsPotential: Displacement, Violations of human rights
Outcome
Project StatusUnder construction
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseMuted response so far (2016)
Do you consider this as a success?No
Why? Explain briefly.The anti-nuclear movement in Tamil Nadu does not appear to be strong (with the exception of agitation at Kudankulam after Fukushima in 2011). Some peaceful protests have been recorded at the Kalpakkam nuclear complex.
Sources and Materials
References

Savvy Soumya Misra, Radioactive Mirage, Down to Earth, 15 October 2009
[click to view]

Positive view in 2000 on the Fast Breeder Reactor, in the magazine Frontline
[click to view]

One of many reports over the years on delays in the PFBR at Kalpakkam
[click to view]

Weapon-Grade Plutonium Production Potential in the Indian Prototype Fast Breeder Reactor, by Alexander Glaser and M. V. Ramana, Science and Global Security, 15:85–105, 2007
[click to view]

The optimistic view from industry in 2015, towards six Fast Breeder Reactors in India
[click to view]

Links

Fast breeder reactors are the least safe, by Swaminathan
[click to view]

Description of the nuclear complex at Kalpakkam
[click to view]

129 People Jailed for Protesting Against Kalpakkam Reactor. March 29, 2013. Nityanand Jayaraman reporting. In a bid to intimidate fenceline communities living around the Kalpakkam nuclear reactors, the Tamil Nadu Police has jailed 129 people of the 650 that were detained in wedding halls yesterday. Those detained were protesting to highlight that the nuclear complex in Kalpakkam was all threat and risk to the local community with no benefits either in the form of jobs or electricity...



Previous report: Kalpakkam: Peaceful Anti-nuke Protest Turned Nasty by TN Cops



In a bid to intimidate fenceline communities living around the Kalpakkam nuclear reactors, the Tamil Nadu Police has jailed 129 people of the 650 that were detained in wedding halls yesterday. Those detained were protesting to highlight that the nuclear complex in Kalpakkam was all threat and risk to the local community with no benefits either in the form of jobs or electricity.
[click to view]

Other Documents

The entry to the Kalpakkam nuclear complex
[click to view]

Meta Information
ContributorJoan Martinez Alier
Last update18/01/2016
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