Inviting disaster?

Published: Wednesday 15 May 1996

IT COULD lead to a nuclear disaster in the area. High-level radioactive waste from the spent fuel reprocessing plant of the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC) at Trombay has been piling up since 1965, and the BARC has not been concerned about it so far. The storage tanks at Trombay contain 15 to 20 lakh litres of liquid waste. The high-level waste released by BARC'S plutonium separation unit at Tarapore near Mumbai, is embedded in Molten glass, which is encased in steel containers and submerged under water.

More than 90 per cent of the total radioactivity in the waste material produced by nuclear reactors constitutes high-level waste. It releases large amounts of heat during decay and this raises the temperature of the steel containers to 180-200'c. According to the former director of BARC, A N Prasad, the high-level waste collecting at Trombay was "not that radioactive" to be solidified in molten glass and disposed of in the sea.

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