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Energetica nuclear after Fukushima: Brazil
Material posted: Publication date: 23-10-2011
The nuclear accident in Fukushima the heated protests of environmental organizations, part of Brazilian scientists and opposition politicians increased the number of opponents of nuclear energy among the population of Brazil. The study showed Gallup-Global WIN, the opposition to nuclear energy in Brazil grew by 5% after the accident in Fukushima. 54% of respondents, one way or another against nuclear energy, 32% for or partially for its use, and 14% undecided.

The nuclear accident in Fukushima the heated protests of environmental organizations, part of Brazilian scientists and opposition politicians increased the number of opponents of nuclear energy among the population of Brazil. The study showed Gallup-Global WIN, the opposition to nuclear energy in Brazil grew by 5% after the accident in Fukushima. 54% of respondents, one way or another against nuclear energy, 32% for or partially for its use, and 14% undecided.

The initial reaction of the government was careful. President Dilma Rousseff through his Secretary gave, which is very concerned about the consequences of the accident. But offered not to hurry with reaction to the Brazilian nuclear program, and to wait the development of events in Japan[1]. A similar position was shared by the Minister of science and technology, Mercadante.

On March 14, the President Eletronuclear of the operator of Brazilian nuclear power plant Leonan DOS Santos assured that the Brazilian reactors are much safer than Fukushima. Santos stated that the steam generator is separated from the principal of Angra has eight diesel generators[2]. In addition, he said the region has a low risk of earthquakes and tsunamis. In spite of this to prevent the ingress of waves on Angra was built the breakwater. Eletronuclear said about monitoring the situation at Fukushima. Subsequently was created an interdepartmental working group to monitor the nuclear crisis in Japan.

National Congress of Brazil for its part demanded Eletronuclear to explain Brazilian society issues related to the Brazilian nuclear program, the safety system of nuclear power plants, plans of action in case of accidents, the expansion plan of the Brazilian nuclear program with a focus on safety, prevention of accidents and storage of radioactive waste. Legislators also worried about the inevitable installation of new nuclear reactors without prior discussion in Congress and broad public debate on this issue.

At the initiative of senators by the Committee on environment and sustainable development in mid-April, public hearings were held. The President of the National Commission for nuclear energy (CNEN), Oder Gonçalves dismissed fears, saying that Angra-3 fully complies with the latest safety standards. Also, Oder Gonçalves dispelled the rumors that Angra has no environmental licenses, stating that with the construction of Angra-2 and Angra-3 license was issued. Although said that after the accident at Fukushima perhaps the rules for environmental licensing of power plants may be revised[3]. Also, Oder gonçalves said that Brazil will be established the Agency for supervision of nuclear energy.

Some of the senators raised the question of the need for nuclear power plants and invest 30 billion reais for the construction of 4 nuclear power plants, given the costly maintenance and the risk of accidents and the fact that the country has sufficient alternative sources: water, wind. So Senator Sarney Phil considered that the amounts involved in nuclear power will be sufficient for the construction of other energy sources capable of producing at least four times more power[4].

The President of the Brazilian Association for nuclear energy Edson Kuramoto, said that the option of hydropower is limited, in 2025 it will be unsustainable[5]. And electricity demand according to forecasts, will amount to 3,7% annually. Hence, according to him nuclear energy is the alternative that will contribute to the development of the country.

Also was part of the senators offer not to refuse from nuclear energy, but at the same time to revise approaches to safety in nuclear power plants.

The leaders of the opposition parties in Congress made a proposal to create a joint Committee of ruling and opposition parties to consider and determine the criteria of nuclear power plant construction in Brazil to prepare a contingency plan for security of new nuclear power plants.

Also at the hearings a question was raised about the improvement of the mechanism of evacuation of people in case of an accident. The city of Angra DOS Reis where you placed the NPP has poor transport and communication infrastructure, and near there is a risk of landslides, endangering the road for the evacuation.

According to the Secretary of state for the environment, Carlos minka prevention of emergency measures needs to be more frequent with clearer procedures[6].

Despite the fact that representatives Eletronuclear was not on the official hearings, the company announced an increase in security measures, nuclear power plants and emergency response mechanisms at two reactors in Angra DOS Reis, on the coast of the state of Rio de Janeiro. Eletronuclear plans to build two piers for the possibility of evacuation by sea, will hire external auditors to monitor the slopes in the region, where recently there were landslides, and build small HPPs in case of failure of power supply and problems with a diesel generator, as happened at Fukushima. It is also planned the extension of the airfield in Angra DOS Reis airport to increase operational capacity during a crisis situation.

According to representatives of Eletronuclear these measures were planned, but due to the accident in Japan, their implementation will be accelerated. The company studies the evolution of the accident in Fukushima and what lessons will be included as plants like Angra DOS Reis those that are projected in the future.

Concerning the storage of spent fuel, which is placed while in the plant, then, according to the Director of the division of radiation protection CNEN , Laercio of Vinas, the Commission is exploring the possibility of constructing a permanent waste storage of low and medium activity for the 2015-17 years, but it depends on technical, political and social demands[7].

By the end of March despite the protests of environmentalists, some scientists and opposition politicians technical, the Brazilian government finally decided that it suspend a nuclear program.

Firstly, the Minister of mines and energy, Edison Lobao said that the construction of Angra-3 will not be stopped. The commissioning of the Angra-3 with a capacity of more than 1080 MW is planned for 2015[8].

According to Manuel Francisco Diaz, representative Eletronuclear, the company is searching areas for the construction of new nuclear power plants (4 or 6 nuclear power plants will be built by 2030) and these plans the recent accident at Fukushima will not interfere[9]. Moreover, the freezing of projects in the nuclear field in other countries, the company perceives as wrong and emotional step.

In the international arena commitment to the development of nuclear energy in mid-April, at the BRICS summit in Chinese Sanya confirmed President Dilma Rousseff.

During the regional public hearings, supported the development of nuclear power the mayor of Angra DOS Reis Jordao Tuck and the Council of elders of the city, but stressed the need for a revision of security procedures and mechanisms for responding to emergencies, and exercises starting in 2012. The Minister of science and technology, Aloisio Mercadante, in turn, confirmed that the Brazilian government will comply with all regulations that will be made by international organizations after the analysis of the accident at the nuclear power plant in Japan.

Also supported the development of nuclear energy and the Ministry of defence. According to Minister Nelson Jobim, the disaster in Japan, which led to many thousands of victims cannot destabilize the Brazilian nuclear program[10].

Thus, despite the difficulties and costs, the Brazilian government still intends to develop nuclear energy, eventually making it the subject of national prestige.


[1] Dilma acompanha Japão atenta à questão nuclear, diz ministro, 15.03.2011. http://oglobo.globo.com/mundo/mat/2011/03/15/dilma-acompanha-japao-atenta-questao-nuclear-diz-ministro-924014049.asp
[2] Audiência hoje discute riscos da energia nuclear no Brasil, 12.04.2011. http://www.direitoshumanos.etc.br/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=10978:audiencia-discute-hoje-riscos-da-energia-nuclear-no-brasil&catid=15:dhescas&Itemid=158

[3] Deveríamos repensar a política nuclear brasileira,20.03.2011. http://www.observatorioeco.com.br/deveriamos-repensar-a-politica-nuclear-brasileira/

[4] Audiência hoje discute riscos da energia nuclear no Brasil, 12.04.2011. http://www.direitoshumanos.etc.br/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=10978:audiencia-discute-hoje-riscos-da-energia-nuclear-no-brasil&catid=15:dhescas&Itemid=158

[5] Fukushima e Após Tchernobil, qual o futuro da energia nuclear? Especialistas respondem, 27.04.2011. http://www.ipen.br/sitio/?idz=1&idc=9330

[6] O Brasil precisa de enegia nuclear? 16.03.2011. http://www.jblog.com.br/outraspaginas.php?itemid=26183

[7] Após Fukushima, programa nuclear brasileiro avança com foco na segurança, 28/04/2011. http://www.em.com.br/app/noticia/tecnologia/2011/04/28/interna_tecnologia,224244/apos-fukushima-programa-nuclear-brasileiro-avanca-com-foco-na-seguranca.shtml

[8] rediscute Brasil sua política de energia nuclear, 27.03.2011. http://diariodonordeste.globo.com/materia.asp?codigo=953982

[9] Governo planeja erguer entre 4 e 6 usinas nucleares até 2030, 26.04.2011. http://economia.estadao.com.br/noticias/not_64110.htm

[10] Ministro defende uso de energia nuclear no Brasil, 13.04.2011. http://www.opovo.com.br/app/opovo/brasil/2011/04/13/noticiabrasiljornal,2125063/ministro-defende-uso-de-energia-nuclear-no-brasil.shtml
 The Nuclear club journal, No. 1 (8) 2011 (author's version)

Tags: security , threat


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