The Fast Breeder Test Reactor (FBTR) at Kalpakkam is the flagship of the second stage of the three-stage nuclear program of Department of Atomic Energy in India. Health physics services commenced at FBTR in April 1985 itself and the reactor went critical in October 1985. FBTR is a unique reactor utilizing U-Pu C as the fuel. Presently, FBTR has been operated upto a maximum power of 32 MW(t) and the fuel has attained a maximum burnup of 165 GWd/t. Health Physics experience gained from the operation of reactor for 35 years is outlined. These include area monitoring, stack monitoring, annual discharge of activity released vis-à-vis technical specification limits, personnel monitoring that include man-rem expenditure, waste disposal etc. Adequate radiation protection measures coupled with effective surveillance by the health physicists have made it possible to have low personnel exposures. Installation, calibration and usefulness of special monitors, unique to LMFBRs, such as gas flow ion chambers in the Clad Rupture Detection (CRD) argon circuit for detection of gaseous fission products, fume activity monitors in the ventilation ducts to indicate sodium leak / fire, sodium aerosol detection monitors in the primary double envelop sampling line and gas activity monitors are highlighted. The experienced gained during fuel clad failure events at FBTR has been unique on the radiological protection and failed fuel failure identification point of view. Fuel clad failure incident of short time release with wet rupture and clad failure with gas leaker of slow release due to dry raptures are experienced. Reactor cover gas activity samplings and analysis has been helpful in the identification of failed fuel assembly.
Towards controlling external exposures to occupational workers during maintenance work, initial baseline studies were conducted to assess the deposition of radioactive corrosion and activation products and dose rates in the primary sodium pipelines and various components of FBTR, which are housed in B-cells. Environmental impact is an important global issue for any energy option. The release of radioactive materials from FBTR is negligible. The unique experiences gained would serve as a guide for a safe approach and in determining the criteria from the point of view of radiation protection for future LMFBRs being planned in India.
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|Affiliation/Organization||Department of Atomic Energy|