Brazil’s Eletronuclear has signed a $1.9 million agreement with the national energy research corporation for site studies. The technical agreement covers the preliminary investigation of sites that could host potential nuclear facilities, with work beginning in Northeast Brazil. The initial duration of the agreement is 24 months.

The surveys will focus on sites that could receive new nuclear plants in the Southeast, South and parts of the Midwest. The states to be surveyed are Espírito Santo, Minas Gerais, Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo, Parana, Santa Catarina, Rio Grande do Sul, Goias and Mato Grosso do Sul. Other areas could also be investigated if the contract is amended.

The studies will use information from the Environment Ministry, the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics (IBGE), the National Agency of Electrical Energy, and the National Water Agency (ANA), among others.

Brazil is currently building the Angra 3 nuclear power plant, and has identified the need for four more 1000MW reactors by 2030. However, recent press reports have suggested that the country may run into difficulty financing these projects. Eletrobras’ budget for 2011 has been cut, according to reports in The Wall Street Journal.

“The government cut our BRL3.1 billion budget for 2011, so now we’ll have to work with just BRL1.8 billion next year,” Roberto Travassos, manager of planning and budget at Eletronuclear told the WSJ. “We’re talking to Eletrobras and the Ministry of Mines and Energy to recover our budget in order to not put deadlines for start-up of operations at risk,” he said.

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