Chile and Uruguay on the path to nuclear energy

Feb 11, 2011 12:00 AM

Chile and Uruguay and another fifteen countries have officially presented plans to the International Atomic Energy Agency for the construction of nuclear plants, revealed AIEA following a four-day meeting on the issue in Vienna.
The Argentine nuclear plant of Atucha, first to be built in Latinamerica The Argentine nuclear plant of Atucha, first to be built in Latinamerica

A hundred delegates from over fifty countries participated in the seminar which shows “the growing acceptance in many countries of nuclear energy as a stable and clean source of energy”, said AIEA at the the seminar. The agency adds that the nuclear energy resource “can contribute to tone down the impact of climate change” triggered by the CO2 emissions from other energy sources. Other countries in the list of applicants mostly developing include Poland, Kuwait, Jordan, Morocco, Tunis, Nigeria, Bangladesh, Thailand and Vietnam.

During the seminar participants discussed issues related to selecting nuclear plants’ sites, legal framework, security measures and staff training. According to AIEA the forum signalled a change in direction following forty years of resistance when not hostility to everything nuclear particularly from western countries and environmentalists. Both Chile and Uruguay have experienced serious power shortages in recent years since the backbone of their generation is hydroelectric and climate change or exhaustion of such an option, have had a negative impact. Furthermore, in the nineties, Chile became dependent on natural gas from Argentina and in spite of existing contracts Buenos Aires privileged domestic demand.

Both countries have experimental reactors for scientific research. In the mid eighties Canada offered Uruguay know-how, training and funds to develop nuclear energy but the initiative did not have sufficient support in Parliament, voted down by the current ruling coalition then in the opposition, but now sponsors of such an energy option. Canada wanted to have stable Uruguay as a regional showcase for its Cantu natural uranium fuelled reactors.
In the Mercosur group Argentina and Brazil have nuclear plants which generate between 8% and 2% of their domestic power. Both have ambitious plans to expand such capacity.

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