Kalpakkam: To ensure safe storage of atomic waste from spent fuel used in reactors in the Indira Gandhi Centre for Atomic Energy complex here, the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) today commenced construction of a facility where canisters holding nuclear waste in glass form can be stored.
"We have just started the construction. It will take four to five years to complete the construction," BARC Facilities Director Amitava Roy said.
He was talking to reporters here on the sidelines of inauguration of a Waste Immobilisation Plant (WIP) by President Pranab Mukherjee through videoconferencing from Mumbai.
During reprocessing, around three per cent of the spent fuel from PHW reactors becomes waste and the rest is recycled. This waste is in liquid form and would be stored in stainless steel canisters after converting them to glass form (boro- silicate glass) and safely kept in the campus here.
The WIP inaugurated today uses vitrification process to convert the waste to glass form so that there is no `leaching` (dissolving in water) in the future.
"Once they are made into glass and stored in such a way that half the height of the canister is under the ground and the rest above the ground, they can be safe. Later, when there are more, they can be buried in a deep geological repository," Roy said, adding every stainless steel canister can hold up to 450 kg of nuclear waste.
The spent fuel is separated for uranium, plutonium and fission product. While Uranium and Plutonoim would be used for India`s second phase of the nuclear programme namely Fast Breeder Reactor (FBR), the fission product, which form three per cent of the total spent fuel is the nuclear waste.
While Kalpakkam nuclear complex already has a functioning reprocessing plant, another such facility is being constructed, he said, adding there were three reprocessing plants for nuclear plants in the country.
The WIP here has a capacity to handle 250 tonne of waste and the largest of its kind in the country, he said.