Russian nuclear fuel company Tvel, a subsidiary of Rosatom, has signed a contract with India’s Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) to supply enriched uranium fuel pellets for two boiling water reactor (BWR) units at the Tarapur nuclear plant.
Tvel said, “several dozen tonnes” of the pellets, produced by Tvel’s Mashinostroitelny Zavod (MSZ - Machine-building Plant) in Elektrostal near Moscow, would be shipped to India’s Nuclear Fuel Centre in Hyderabad for fabrication into fuel assemblies for Tarapur.
Tarapur’s two 150MWe BWRs, India’s oldest nuclear power units, were built by GE on a turnkey contract and commissioned in 1969, before the advent of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). They were originally 200MWe but were subsequently downrated. They used imported enriched uranium (from France and China in 1980-1990s and from Russia after 2001) and are under International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards. However, in 2004 Russia stopped supplies of uranium to the units under pressure from the Nuclear Suppliers Group because of India’s refusal to sign the NPT. They underwent a six-month refurbishment programme over 2005-06, and in 2006 Russia agreed to resume fuel supplies. A $700 million contract was signed with Rosatom in 2008. Further agreements were signed with Tvel in 2015.
Oleg Grigoriev, Tvel’s Senior Vice President for Commerce and International Business noted that the company has similar contracts for the export of fuel pellets for India’s heavy water PHWR reactors. Tvel also completes supplies nuclear fuel produced at its Novosibirsk Chemical Concentrates Plant for the two VVER-1000 nuclear units operating at the Kudankulam NPP under a long-term contract with the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited.
Photo: Fuel pellets (Source: Tvel)