A new nuke plant for Brazil

A third nuclear plant is to be built in Angra dos Reis, Rio de Janeiro state, after 23 years. The construction will start over the next few weeks, according to Othon Luiz Pinheiro da Silva, president of Electronuclear, the state company responsible for thermoelectric energy in Brazil.

The new nuclear plant is part of the polemic PAC – the Growth Acceleration Programme announced in 2007 by Luis Inácio Lula da Silva’s government. Like leading countries such as the UK, the Brazilian government sees nuclear power as a “clean” energy in times of global warming.

Brazil has currently two nuclear plants by Itaoma beach, in Angra dos Reis, which together have the capacity to generate 2,000 megawatts.

The construction of a third plant was started by the military government in the early 80s, but had to be paralyzed due to environmental concerns and suspicion of corruption. Since then, construction firm Andrade Gutierrez has conserved the area at a cost of 10 million dollars per year.

As a reward, it now gets to finish the construction. No public bid was made this time. The government simply kept the former contractor.

Andrade Gutierrez is a major donor for Lula’s party, PT. 

According to the newspaper Folha de São Paulo, other construction companies have claimed that the cost could be reduced by 40% with the use of new technology developed since the first contract. The newspaper also claims that the cost went up from an estimated 1.8 billion to 3.3 billion dollars.

The news of the construction of Angra 3 emerged just a few days after the newspaper O Globo had access to an official report that criticized the lack of security at the two power plants already working at Angra dos Reis.

According to O Globo, the report by the Brazilian Court of Audit relates a “state of chaos in radioactive installations” together with “lack of enough adequately trained technicians supervising the power stations”.

The report also points out that “54% of the 2,350 pieces of equipment (in the nuke plants) work irregularly and have no official authorization to operate”. In addition to that, the report claims Brazil lacks qualified human resources to work with nuclear material, according to the newspaper. 

The new power plant will start functioning in 2014 with a capacity of 1,350 megawatts.