Keywords: plutonium reprocessing, reprocessing economics, India, fast breeder reactors, energy economics, radioactive waste, spent nuclear fuel, waste disposal, nuclear waste, nuclear energy, nuclear power
Costing plutonium: economics of reprocessing in India
The relative merits of reprocessing and direct disposal of spent nuclear fuel have been widely debated in Europe and the USA. An important aspect of the debate has been the economics of reprocessing. So far there have been no studies of the subject in the Indian context. This study assesses the economics of reprocessing in India and the cost of producing plutonium for the fast breeder reactor programme. Our results suggest that the cost of reprocessing each kilogram of spent fuel would cost approximately Rs. 26,000 (approx. $600) with assumptions favourable to reprocessing, and close to Rs. 30,000 (approx. $675) under other assumptions. These costs are lower than the corresponding figures for reprocessing plants in Europe, the USA, and Japan. As in their case, however, it is unlikely to be an economically viable method of waste disposal.