Foundation stone for India's second uranium plant laid

Tuesday, 20 November 2007, 08:00 Hrs
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Kadapa (Andhra Pradesh): Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy Tuesday laid the foundation stone for a 11.06 billion uranium mining and processing plant in Thummalapalle in Kadapa district, which is expected to boost nuclear power generation in the country.

To be built on the International Atomic Energy Commission guidelines, this will be the second uranium plant in the country, after Jaduguda in Jharkhand. With a production capacity of 3,000 tonnes a day, the uranium plant is expected to be ready in 36 months.

In Thummalapalle, uranium would be mined underground, compared to open cast mining in Jaduguda.

The foundation stone has been laid at a time when the central government is struggling hard to operationalise the nuclear deal with United States to procure fuel for its nuclear power projects.

The plant is being built in Pulivendula assembly constituency, represented by the chief minister, who hoped that the prestigious project would transform the district and the backward region of Rayalseema.

Uranium Corporation of India Limited (UCIL), which is developing the plant, and the state government have allayed apprehensions by environmentalists and non-governmental organisations that the plant will pose health hazards.

"The uranium available here is of low grade. It is of 0.55 specific gravity," said a UCIL official, adding that the uranium of 2.50 specific gravity was being mined abroad.

"The project is coming up in my own constituency. It is near my home. I am equally or more concerned about it. It will be an underground mine. All the experts of UCIL have assured that there would be no radiation effects around the mine," the chief minister said in a statement before the foundation stone laying ceremony.

UCIL officials said Jaduguda mines have been functioning for the past three decades and people are content with the development of the area and claimed that the worries of the public representatives and local people were dispelled after they visited Jaduguda.

The environmentalists, however, are not satisfied with the assurance of UCIL authorities. Anti Uranium Project Committee convenor A. Sampath Kumar feared that uranium waste could undermine public health.

According to UCIL officials, there are 44.48 million tonnes of uranium deposit available in Thummalapalle and 26.79 million tonnes can be mined in the next three decades.

"The mining plant will have a life span of 30 years and will mine 900,000 tonnes uranium ore per annum," said UCIL Chairman and Managing Director R. Gupta.

The officials said the uranium processing plant would come up at an outlay of 3 billion. Mining of the uranium would produce sodium diuranate, which would be processed and sent to the Nuclear Fuel Complex (NFC) at Hyderabad. It would be reprocessed at NFC before being supplied to nuclear power plants.

The plant is coming up on 2,400 acres. It will spread over Mabbuchintalapalle, Thummalapalle, Bhoomayapalle and Rachagudipalle villages in Vemula mandal. The state government has given 1,122 acres of its land to UCIL while the latter has acquired 1,218 acres of private land.
Source: IANS
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