By Venkatachari Jagannathan
Chennai, April 30 (IANS) The Fast Reactor Fuel Cycle Facility (FRFCF) budgeted at Rs 9,600 crore is expected to be commissioned in 2022 or 2023, said the top official of Indira Gandhi Centre for Atomic Research (IGCAR).
He also said rather than cost overruns, there will actually be savings as materials are being ordered when their prices are low.
“The FRFCF project is budgeted at Rs 9,600 crore. There will not be cost overruns due to Covid-19 lockdown or other reasons. On the other hand, we are saving costs by ordering items when their prices are low. There will be surely cost savings and no cost escalation,” Arun Kumar Bhaduri, Director, IGCAR told IANS.
According to Bhaduri, the FRFCF project is being executed in an integrated manner with civil construction and erection of equipment planned simultaneously.
The FRFCF project would employ about 1,500-2,000 people and is being built at Kalpakkam about 80 km from chennai.
“Different buildings are in different stages of construction and so one cannot give an overall percentage of completion. Orders for long delivery equipment have been placed,” Bhaduri said.
The purpose of FRFCF is to reprocess the spent fuel of the 500 MW prototype fast breeder reactor (PFBR) that is being built at Kalpakkam by Bharatiya Nabhikiya Vidyut Nigam Ltd (Bhavini) and also for two other fast reactors expected to come up there.
A fast breeder reactor is one which breeds more material for a nuclear fission reaction than it consumes. It is the key to India’s three-stage nuclear power programme.
“The completion of FRFCF also depends on the flow of funds for the project and how the Covid-19 is going to impact the funds flow,” Bhaduri said.
The project has been allocated Rs 600 crore in the Union budget 2020-21.
Queried about the design of the two other fast reactors that is being planned to set up in Kalpakkam, Bhaduri said the 500 MW PFBR is in the process of commissioning and the lessons learnt can be incorporated in the future fast reactors.
“Once the commissioning of PFBR is done, the design of two other fast breeder reactors can be upgraded,” Bhaduri said.
On the Covid-19 precautions and resumption of operations, Bhaduri who is also the Chairman of the Kalpakkam Management Committee (KMC) looking after the common facilities of various nuclear establishments – IGCAR, Madras Atomic Power Station (MAPS), Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC), Bhavini and others, said work is being carried out with less that permitted number of staff.
In general, the units are following the central government guidelines and are working with staff less than 33 per cent.
“Many people work from home. Since MAPS generates power it is exempted from lockdown. Similarly, the people managing our Fast Breeder Test Reactor (FBTR) have been attending to their work,” Bhaduri said.
According to him, lockdown regulations are strictly followed in the employee townships and they will be continued for some more time even after the lockdown is lifted. The restrictions will be lifted in a graded manner.
He said the township is being sanitised with fire engines. The rations have been arranged for migrant workers and counselling sessions were held.
All the employees are taken in the buses maintaining social distancing norms inside the vehicle, Bhaduri said.