Plutonium Reprocessing Plant

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Last Updated: September 1, 2003
Other Name: N/A
Location: Mumbai, Trombay
Subordinate To: Department of Atomic Energy (DAE)
Size: Medium-scale, output 50 tons per year
Facility Status: Operational

Construction of the plutonium reprocessing plant began in April 1961. The facility is based on the U.S.-developed plutonium-uranium extraction process (PUREX), whose specifications were available through the Atoms for Peace declassification program. Although India apparently obtained blueprints for the plant from the U.S. firm Vitro International, Indian engineers modified the plans to suit particular specifications during construction. Even though New Delhi highlighted the plant as an indigenous effort, it appears the facility was heavily reliant on foreign materials during the construction phase. The BARC's plutonium plant began reprocessing fuel from the CIRUS research reactor in 1964 with a 30 tons/year operating capacity. According to the DAE, the technology and experience gained in extracting plutonium at this facility provided the basis for a second reprocessing plant in Tarapur. Although extreme corrosion caused the plutonium reprocessing plant to be decommissioned in 1974, it was later re-commissioned in 1984 to process irradiated metallic uranium fuel from BARC's CIRUS and Dhruva research reactors. The upgraded facility has an increased capacity of 50 tons/year. Extracted plutonium from the plutonium reprocessing plant is believed to be used for India's nuclear weapons program. By 1997, approximately 400kg of plutonium had already been extracted at this facility.

The fuel reprocessing facility at Trombay is not under International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards.

Sources:
[1] DAE (Government of India), "Annual Report 1970-1971."
[2] DAE (Government of India), "Annual Report 1983-1984."
[3] DAE (Government of India), "Annual Report 2001-2002."
[4] BARC, 2003, www.barc.ernet.in.
[5] Columbia International Affairs Online, www.ciaonet.org.
[6] Frans Berkhout and Surendra Gadekar, "Reprocessing in India," Institute for Energy and Environmental Research, October 1997, http://ieer.org.
[7] George Perkovich, India's Nuclear Bomb: The Impact on Global Proliferation (Berkley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1999), pp. 28, 64.
[8] "Reprocessing: State of the Art 1999," Stichting Antenna Web Site, www.antenna.nl, 5 February 1999.
[9] Surendra Gadekar and Surat Gyjarat, "Indian Nuclear Programme: An Overview," Citizens' Center on Nuclear Non-Proliferation, http://nuclearno.com, 5-10 June 2000.

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