Nuclear Briefs from Brazil, Minnesota, and China

The past week saw a spate of nuclear-related news from around the world. Brazil said it would issue approvals for four nuclear plants and a massive hydropower dam in 2011; a Minnesota House committee voted to lift the state’s 20-year ban on new nuclear power; and a Chinese firm that owns the incident-plagued Hong Kong Daya Bay nuclear plant said it would boost operational transparency to quell public concern.

Brazil to Approve Four Nuclear Plants
Brazilian Minister of Mines and Energy Edison Lobao on Friday told reporters that the country could approve construction of four new nuclear plants. He said that the generating capacity of the new plants had not been determined yet, so there were no estimates on how much investment was needed to build the plants.

Brazil currently has two nuclear plants, Angra 1 and 2, both in Angra dos Reis. A third unit for that site is in the planning stages and expected to come online in late 2015.

Lobao, who was reinstated as the country’s minister of mines and energy after serving in that post from January 2008 through March 2010 under exiting President Luiz Lula da Silva, said that two of the new plants should be built in northeast Brazil and the other two in the southeast of the country. Brazil is looking to secure power supplies and maintain the growth of its surging economy. The government planning arm predicts the country will need 6,000 MW of new nuclear capacity by 2030.

Key approvals for the massive 11,233-MW Belo Monte hydroelectric project proposed for the Xingu River will also be given as early as this February, Reuters quoted Lobao as saying. The first generating unit of that plant could be operating by February 2015.

Sources: Brazil Ministry of Mines and Energy, Reuters, POWERnews

Minnesota Committee Votes to Lift State Nuclear Ban
The Minnesota House Environment, Energy, and Natural Resources Committee on Tuesday voted 10-6 to lift the state’s 20-year ban on new nuclear power plants, sending the bill closer to a House vote. The Minneapolis Star Tribune reported that the bill still faces hurdles, and it could meet some opposition from Gov. Mark Dayton, who is against lifting the moratorium, mostly due to concerns surrounding nuclear waste storage issues.

Source: Minneapolis Star Tribune, POWERnews

China Nuclear Firm to Disclose Incidents, Boost Operational Transparency
Hong Kong Nuclear Investment Co., an owner of the 1994-commissioned Daya Bay nuclear power plant north of Hong Kong, China, on Tuesday pledged to report all incidents at the plant—even minor ones—within two working days and boost efforts to increase operational transparency.

The company is speeding up disclosure because of public concerns about plant safety, even though its former practice of publishing minor incidents once a month, was “on par with international standards,” company executive Chan Siu-hung told Hong Kong English newspaper The Standard.

Daya Bay has two 944-MW pressurized water reactors based on a French 900-MW three–cooling loop design. The plant has been plagued with a series of problems, including a small radiation leak in a contained area, which was discovered on Oct. 23. Lawmakers told the plant’s operators that the leak should have been disclosed to the public immediately. Miniscule radiation also leaked into cooling water in a contained area of Daya Bay plant on May 23.

Sources: POWERnews, The Standard, Hong Kong Nuclear Investment Co.

SHARE this article