Power Reactor Fuel Reprocessing Plant

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Last Updated: September 1, 2003
Other Name: PREFRE
Location: Anushakti Nagar, Mumbai
Subordinate To: Nuclear-Reprocessing
Size: Unknown
Facility Status: Operational

Construction for the Power Reactor Fuel Reprocessing (PREFRE) Plant began in 1969. The Tarapur Atomic Power Station (TAPS), which houses PREFRE and two nuclear reactors, was originally started with the assistance of the US firm General Electric Company. Test operations at PREFRE began in 1977 and in 1979 the first trails were commenced using irradiated fuel (irradiated fuels for these test were supplied by the CIRUS and Rajasthan Atomic Power Station [RAPS] reactors). In December 1982 the PREFRE Plant began operations in Tarapur to reprocess fuel for the civilian Fast Breeder Test Reactor. While irradiated spent fuel from CIRUS was processed at PREFRE under IAEA safeguards, in 1986, the facility began reprocessing fuel from two unsafeguarded reactors at the Madras Atomic Power Station (MAPS). Although the plant's capacity was upgraded to150 t/y in 1991, it appears PREFRE is operating well under capacity. According to a 2001 report by the Center for Energy and Environmental Studies and the Department of Chemical Engineering of the Indian Institute of Technology, this under capacity may be due to the poor rail lines that run through Tarapur to PREFRE. Technical problems as of August 2002 may have also prevented the facility from reaching its full capacity. In light of these issues and other operational difficulties, it is impossible to predict the amount and quality of weapons-grade plutonium extracted at this facility.

PREFRE utilizes the plutonium-uranium enrichment process (PUREX) for extracting plutonium from spent irradiated fuel. Currently reprocesses fuel for the Fast Breeder Test Reactor (FTBR) and Tarapur's mixed oxides (MOX) fuel fabrication facilities. When declared safeguarded spent fuel is present, PREFRE falls under International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards

Sources:
[1] DAE (Government of India), "Annual Report 1981-1982."
[2] DAE (Government of India), "Annual Report 2001-2002."
[3] John Pike, "Bhabha Atomic Research Centre, Trombay," Globalsecurity.org, August 12, 2002.
[4] Columbia International Affairs Online, www.ciaonet.org.
[5] George Perkovich, India's Nuclear Bomb: The Impact on Global Proliferation (Berkley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1999), p. 229.
[6] John Pike, "Tarapur Atomic Power Station (TAPS), Globalsecurity.org, August 12, 2002.
[7] "Reprocessing in India," Institute for Energy and Environmental Research, October 1997, http://ieer.org.
[8] Surendra Gadekar and Surat Gyjarat, "Indian Nuclear Programme: An Overview," Citizens' Center on Nuclear Non-Proliferation Web Site, June 5-10, 2000, http://nuclearno.com.
[9] "Reprocessing: State of the Art 1999," Stichting Antenna, February 5, 1999, www.antenna.nl.

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