Environmental impact study submitted for Atucha 1

31 October 2023

Nucleoeléctrica Argentina SA (NA-SA) has submitted the environmental impact study (EIS) to extend the operating life of unit 1 at the Atucha NPP for a further 20 years. The EIS was prepared by the National Water Institute (INA - Instituto Nacional del Agua) within the framework of an agreement signed between INA and NA-SA supported by the Centre for Development and Technological Assistance (CEDyAT - El Centro de Desarrollo y Asistencia Tecnológica). CEDyAT was selected as Executing Unit for the Atucha I Life Extension Project after participating eight years ago in a similar process for the Life Extension of the Embalse NPP. The central technical document of EIS was drawn up by INA co-ordinated by Federico Bordelois.

Representatives of the Ministry of Environment of the Province of Buenos Aires attended the event at NA-SA’s office, along with Nucleoeléctrica, INA and CEDyAT. Present were NA-SA President José Luis Antúnez, and Vice President Jorge Sidelnik, together with CEDyAT Executive Director Fabián Ruocco. Paper and digital copies of the EIS were handed to the Ministry of Environment of the Province of Buenos Aires, represented by the Undersecretary of Environmental Control and Inspection, Luis Couyoupetrou, and the Provincial Director of Environmental Impact Assessment, Dr Manuel Morrone. INA General Manager Máximo Lanzetta also took part as well as the legal representative of CEDyAT, Dr Mariano Riano. Antúnez highlighted the "commitment of the province of Buenos Aires to the Argentine Nuclear Plan”. Couyoupretrou, praised the professionalism of the document and acknowledged the value of NA-SA’s scientific knowledge and track record.

Argentina has three operating nuclear plants – Atucha I, Atucha II and Embalse, all pressurised heavy water reactors, with a total installed capacity of 1,763 MWe. Atucha I, the first NPP in Latin America, began construction in June 1968 was connected to the National Electric System in March 1974. The operating licence for Atucha I issued by the Nuclear Regulatory Authority will end in 2024. The upgrading outage will last 30 months from 2024 to 2026. This work will increase installed capacity from 362 MWe to 370 MWe. NA-Sa said the work will involve the creation of 2,000 jobs, as well as the generation of opportunities for qualified national suppliers for construction and component manufacturing tasks.

NA-SA estimates the cost if the refurbishment programme at $463m and has held fundraising rounds this year to cover the cost of both the life extension project and construction of a dry storage facility for used fuel. NA-SA said work on the new dry storage facility will start this year and end in 2026 at an estimated cost of $137m. Engineering work on the project will be 100% Argentinian and 90% of the goods and services will be national. In mid-2022, NA-SA completed work on the first used fuel dry storage at Atucha I.

Image: Atucha 1 (courtesy of Nucleoeléctrica Argentina)

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