Monday, April 9, 2007

Brazil and the use of Nuclear Power

The choice for the use of nuclear energy seems to be an unnatural one for a country that contains 10 of the world’s 20 biggest rivers. The use of hydroelectric power is almost a natural consequence.

Maybe the desintegration of the hydroelectric interconnected system of canals and lakes (see previous post) is the reason why president Luis Inácio Lula da Silva’s government is considering the construction of a third nuclear reactor in Angra do Reis, [1] which is the only commercial nuclear plant in Brazil. This plant generates 4% of the electricity that is generated by uranium from Brazilian soil. The plant resulted from an IMF demand and is supplied with two old German reactors – Angra I and Angra II – which already have caused lots of trouble. In September 2001 radioactive water was spilled in Paratí Bay (around the time I took a swim there) and in total the plant has been switched off for thirty times between 1985 and 1993. This has given her the popular name ‘Firefly’. [2]

We can assume that the plant is most valuable to the military. Brazil ratified the non proliferation treaty for nuclear arms, but the navy for example has a huge program for the development of nuclear powered submarines. [2]

[1] Brazil expected to announce plans to complete stalled nuclear plant -The Associated Press - March 24, 2007
[2] Brazil Nuclear Programs – April 1997

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