Located in the industrial area of Boisar in Maharashtra’s Thane district, Tarapur has endured for 50 years but fears are being raised about its safety after Fukushima disaster.

Monday marks the 50th anniversary of the Tarapur Atomic Power Station or TAPS as it is known. Located in the industrial area of Boisar in Maharashtra’s Thane district, TAPS was India’s first atomic power project when it began operations on 28 October, 1969. 

Launched under the Lal Bahadur Shastri government, TAPS relies on boiling water reactors (BWRs) for power generation. BWRs are nuclear reactors using water as a coolant and moderator, with steam being produced in the reactor that is then enriched with uranium oxide. 

The BWRs actually boil water, which is then converted to steam and recycled back to water through a condenser to be re-used in the heat-generation process.   

The first of these reactors for Tarapur was acquired by Homi Bhabha, considered the father of India’s nuclear programme. It was regarded as a pioneering move for two reasons. First, because the technology was new, and second, because it showed Bhabha’s confidence in international cooperation as the project was completed with US collaboration.  

An American collaboration 

The nuclear plant is the result of New Delhi’s collaboration with the US. The contract for the plant was signed between the two countries in May 1964.  

The BWRs were supplied by the US conglomerate General Electric (GE); over 100 Americans were part of the project. Five years after the contract was signed, commercial operations began in October 1969. 

While the contract stated that the US would supply enriched uranium for 30 years, this was cut short in 1974 after India conducted its first successful nuclear test in Pokhran under Operation Smiling Buddha. 

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