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Reprocessing spent fuel is key to nuclear prog

Tarapur (Maha): Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Friday commissioned the country`s second Power Reactor Fuel Processing Plant and said reprocessing of spent fuel is the key to India`s three-stage indigenous nuclear power programme.

Singh also described the commissioning of the plant here as a "significant milestone" in the country`s indigenous nuclear programme to help meet the country`s current and future energy needs.

"Reprocessing is essential in the transition to the second stage of fast breeder reactors which we have begun, and in the subsequent third stage using thorium in advanced reactors," he said while stating that reprocessing of spent fuel is the key to the country`s three-stage indigenous nuclear power programme.

Addressing a gathering after commissioning of the second Power Reactor Fuel Processing Plant at Tarapur, Singh said India has come a long way since the first reprocessing of spent fuel in India in 1964 at Trombay.

"The recycling and optimal utilisation of Uranium is essential to meet our current and future energy security needs.

The vision of the founding fathers of our nuclear programme, Jawaharlal Nehru and Homi Bhabha, was to achieve the mastery of the complete fuel cycle, thus enabling India to use our vast and abundant thorium resources in advanced nuclear power reactors," he said.

Congratulating scientists and engineers who were involved in the design, construction and commissioning of the complex and state-of-the-art facility, he said, "This is yet another instance that once we make up our mind, India can do anything."

Reprocessing the spent fuel will also ensure that India is better able to manage the wastes which are by-products of the nuclear fuel cycle, the Prime Minister said.

Tarapur itself is an outstanding example of nuclear energy`s capacity to provide the clean, safe and economical energy that the nation requires for its development and growth, he said adding that this site is home to the oldest boiling water reactors in the world.

"Here we have built our own reactors as well. And we have subsequently added the entire range of facilities covering the entire fuel cycle from fuel fabrication to reprocessing and waste immobilisation,"he said.

The atomic energy programme of India represents a very important and significant step towards technological and energy self-reliance and security, Prime Minister observed.

"That we have done so by the efforts of our own scientists and engineers is tribute to the vision of the founders of our atomic energy programme.

Given the advanced status of our indigenous programme and the capabilities of our scientists and engineers we can now confidently utilise the new opportunities that have been created with the opening up of international cooperation in the field of nuclear energy," he said.

Singh urged the scientific community to pay greater attention to capacity building, training and nurturing young and fresh talent which is in abundant supply in the country to to realise the potential of atomic energy to contribute to the nation`s development.

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