Argentina to acquire site for new Atucha nuclear unit

6 November 2015

Argentina's nuclear utility Nucleoelectrica has received approval in a presidential decree to begin the process to acquire the site for a new nuclear power plant near the existing Atucha nuclear site, the company said.

Nucleoelectrica did not specify the technology to be used for the new plant, but it is likely to be a pressurised heavy water reactor (PHWR) similar to the three units already in operation. The planned output will be approximately 750MWe, and Nucleoelectrica said it will be responsible for the design, preparation, construction, commissioning, and eventual operation of the unit. The Atucha nuclear station currently has one 335MWe and one 692MWe PHWR in operation. Unit 2, which began operation in June 2014, was largely designed and built by Nucleoelectrica. There is also a 600MWe Candu-6 PHWR in operation at the Embalse site.

Argentina has said it is considering construction of two more units at Atucha and a further unit, and has been in detailed talks with Russia and China on these projects. In September, Argentinian Planning Minister Julio De Vido had talks in Vienna with both Russia and China during the 59th General Conference of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

He then said Argentina planned to send a joint mission of the planning and economy ministries to China to advance the details of a contract for construction of the fourth and fifth Argentinian nuclear units. He explained that "with an execution deadline of five years, the work will require, for the fourth nuclear plant, an investment of around $5.8bn dollars; and for the fifth plant $7bn." In September 2014 Argentina had signed an agreement with China that could lead to detailed contracts for the construction of Atucha 3, most probably another PHWR.

De Vido also met with Rosatom director general Sergei Kiriyenko in Vienna, with whom he discussed details of agreements for construction of the sixth unit. In April 2015, Russia and Argentina signed a cooperation agreement that could lead to the construction of a 1200MWe VVER-1200 reactor, which would be Argentina's first light water reactor (LWR). On 23 October, Russian President Vladimir Putin said during a teleconference with Argentinian President Cristina Kirchner that Russian state nuclear corporation Rosatom is negotiating the construction of a new reactor at Atucha. However, it is possible that a new site will be selected for an LWR.



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