Relocation of first nuclear power plants needs careful research

Key Issues: 

VietNamNet Bridge 15 September 2010

VietNamNet Bridge – Ninh Thuan Province asked the Government to relocate the country’s first two nuclear plants. Nuclear experts say that the Government needs to carefully consider this issue.

At the request of Ninh Thuan province to change the sites for two nuclear power plants, Deputy Prime Minister Hoang Trung Hai asked the Ministry of Industry and Trade to study the request and report to the Government.

The National Assembly last November approved construction of two plants with a capacity of more than 4,000 MW each in Thuan Nam and Ninh Hai Districts, Ninh Thuan Province.

Work on the first, initially estimated to cost $3.4 billion, will begin in 2014, with its first unit beginning operation in 2020. The Government will decide the date for building the second plant.

Ninh Thuan authorities want the Government to build the plants in its southern area to leave the northern land for tourism. The province would face difficulties in calling for investment if one is built in the north and one in the south.

Analysts remarked that it is difficult to relocate the plants because the selected sites were approved by residents, People’s Councils and the National Assembly.

Tuoi Tre interviewed some members of the National Assembly Committee for Science-Technology and the Environment. A deputy agreed with Ninh Thuan’s argument, but added that relocation is very difficult because the sites are noted clearly in the resolution.

“First of all, it is necessary to conduct careful research. If Ninh Thuan’s proposal is appropriate, the Government may have to ask the National Assembly to change its resolution,” he observed.

Vuong Huu Tuan, Director of Vietnam Atomic Institute, suggested that relocation would not influence the construction pace. However, the two sites were selected using scientific research, with the agreement of area residents. Moreover, by 2030 Vietnam will have 13-15 nuclear power turbines, so it will be necessary to expand construction sites, not narrow them. Tuan concluded that it is unnecessary to relocate the two plants.

An official from the Electricity of Vietnam Group (EVN) objected to any change, as preparations have been implemented very carefully and urgently. The EVN official stated that changing construction sites would harm the projects heavily.

Ta Van Huong, an official from the Ministry of Industry and Trade, thought it was normal for Ninh Thuan to offer a new proposal, but it must be carefully researched.

Related agencies are waiting on the Ministry of Industry and Trade’s research results.

Russian State Nuclear Energy Corporation (Rosatom), which won the bid to build the first nuclear power plant, has increased its estimate to $8 billion. The group will also set up a center for training personnel and an atomic energy research institute. They will also initially train around 70 Vietnamese.

Vietnam has already sent 40 technicians and experts to Russia for training while seven Vietnamese universities have initiated courses in the field.

By 2030, Vietnam hopes to have eight nuclear plants to meet its skyrocketing electricity needs, according to the Government’s website.