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Tamil Nadu’s small coastal town Kalpakkam has the unique distinction of being the home for reactors fueled by three different fissile isotopes, renowned nuclear scientist R. Chidambaram said on Tuesday.

Chidambaram, who currently holds Department of Atomic Energy’s Homi Bhabha Chair and is a former Principal Scientific Advisor to the Indian government, was at Kalpakkam, about 70 km from here, as the Chief Guest for the founding day celebrations of India’s second largest nuclear research and development unit, the Indira Gandhi Centre for Atomic Research (IGCAR).

In his address, he said Kalpakkam’s uniqueness in having reactors fuelled by all the three fissile isotopes viz. uranium-235 (powering the Madras Atomic Power Station-MAPS), plutonium 239 (Fast Breeder Test Reactor-FBTR), and uranium-233 (KAMINI reactor).

The IGCAR was formed on April 30, 1971 by an executive order by Vikram Sarabhai, the then Chairman, Atomic Energy Commission. The event also coincides with Sarabhai’s birth centenary.

According to IGCAR, the unit was set up with the main objective of conducting broad based multidisciplinary programme of scientific research and advanced engineering, directed towards the development of sodium-cooled fast breeder reactor technology in India.

The IGCAR designed 500 MW prototype fast breeder reactor (PFBR) is under advanced stage of construction and commissioning by the Bharatiya Nabhikiya Vidyut Nigam Ltd (BHAVINI).

According to IGCAR, the Fast Reactor Fuel Cycle Facility (FRFCF) is also in advanced stage of construction.

The purpose of FRFCF is to reprocess the spent fuel of the prototype fast breeder reactor (PFBR) that is being built at Kalpakkam and also for two other fast reactors expected to come up there