The Supreme Court has said the problem of storing spent nuclear fuel from the Kudankulam nuclear power plant has to be “worked out”, possibly with the help of experts from the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB) and officials at the highest level in the Tamil Nadu government.
- The Supreme Court asked Tamil Nadu government to come clear on the time schedule for the completion of public hearings by the State regarding the construction of an Away From Reactor (AFR) facility at the Kudankulam plant.
- The Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd. (NPCIL) had sought an extension till July 2026 for the construction of the AFR facility. In 2018, the court had given the Corporation time till April 30, 2022.
- The AFR repository was supposed to be built in five years’ time, but this has not been done. In 2013, the Supreme Court had granted five years’ time to the NPCIL, till July 2018. In 2018, the court gave an extension till 2022 and said this was the final extension of time to create the AFR storage. Now, they are again asking for an extension.
What is ‘spent nuclear fuel’?
- Spent nuclear fuel, occasionally called used nuclear fuel, is nuclear fuel that has been irradiated in a nuclear reactor (usually at a nuclear power plant).
- It is no longer useful in sustaining a nuclear reaction in an ordinary thermal reactor and depending on its point along the nuclear fuel cycle, it may have considerably different isotopic constituents.