BARC has come a long way since it first began reprocessing of spent fuel in the year 1964 at Trombay. The recycling and optimal utilisation of uranium is essential to meet our current and future energy security needs. Reprocessing of spent fuel followed by separation of minor actinides will also ensure reduction of radiotoxicity of radioactive waste and the need for long term isolation from the geosphere. Nuclear Recycle Program of DAE also includes recovery of strategic materials from spent fuel for recycling and R&D in the areas of spent fuel reprocessing and waste management. Presently, reprocessing plants are in operation at Trombay, Tarapur and Kalpakkam. Power Reactor Fuel Reprocessing Plant (PReFRe-1) at Tarapur was designed, built and commissioned in 1974 through indigenous R & D efforts. Kalpakkam Fuel Reprocessing Plant (KARP) is the second facility for processing fuel from Pressurised Heavy Water Reactors (PHWRs).
Reprocessing & Waste management plants will be integrated for the first time with Integrated Nuclear Recycle Plant, Tarapur (IP-1) using “SOLID IN & SOLID OUT” concept with a plant design capacity of 600 Tones of Heavy Metal per annum. Engineering design and infrastructure development activities are in progress. The Power Reactor Fuel Reprocessing Plant (PReFRe-2), set up at Tarapur was inaugurated by Honourable Dr. Manmohan Singh, Prime Minister of India on January 2011 which is now in regular operation. New Gang type chopper and Automated charging facility have performed to their desired capacities. The operation of the Waste Management Facilities at Trombay and Kalpakkam for treatment and storage of radioactive waste is being done by BARC. Joule Melter used for vitrification of high level
waste at Tarapur was shut down after operation for 3 years and has been decommissioned using indigenously developed tools. BARC also manages treatment and safe disposal of radioactive waste both
in solid and liquid forms which are generated at BARC and NPCIL units at Tarapur. Various chemical processing methods are used to treat both low and high level wastes. India is one of the few countries to have mastered the technology of vitrification.
BARC has the unique distinction of successfully operating two vitrification plants at Tarapur and Trombay for management of High Level Waste. In addition BARC manages spent radiation sources from all over the country from various medical centres, research institutions and industrial units.
Some recent developments in the area of back-end of the fuel cycle include: Successful plant operation using computer-based Control & Instrumentation System including seismically qualified nuclear instruments; Development and fabrication of continuous rotary dissolver of 400 Tons Per Year (TPY) reprocessing capacity of spent fuel; Remote dismantling of joule heated ceramic melter to facilitate its decommissioning, which has been demonstrated on actual scale melter system using indigenously developed remotely operated tools; Development and demonstration of vitrification technology using cold crucible induction melter by successful completion of simulated waste feed experiments and making it adaptable for Low Level Waste treatment.