Construction of Brazil’s third nuclear plant Angra 3 is expected to be approved by the government, according to comments attributed to the presidential chief of staff, Jose Dirceu.

The project, which requires some $1.8 billion in investments, has been backed by the Science and Technology Ministry, but Mines and Energy Minister Dilma Rousseff has said that the project was not an economically feasible alternative to expand the country’s energy output anymore. According to Rousseff, the construction of thermoelectric plant could be a cheaper alternative and there is still considerable hydroelectric potential.

At a recent meeting of the National Energy Policy Council (CNPE) Dirceu requested reviews of the reports presented by the Ministries of Mines and Energy, Science and Technology, and Environment, of which only that of the Science and Technology Ministry approved the project.

The CNPE postponed a decision on the completion of the reactor in order to study the issue in greater depth. The decision is now likely be taken in May when the CNPE again meets.

The 1350MWe Angra 3 was planned for the southern state of Rio de Janeiro and equipment for the plant was imported in the 1970s and 1980s under a co-operation deal with Germany. Brazil’s federal nuclear power company Eletronuclear, which runs Angra 1 & 2, spends some $20 million in maintenance of these parts each year.

•Paulo Figueiredo was named as chief executive of Eletronuclear, replacing Zieli Dutra, following the postponement. No official reason was given for the changeover.