The News That Matters about the Nuclear Industry

Corruption and mismanagement stall Brazil’s nuclear programme

13a47-corruptionflag-BrazilTurbulent Times for Brazil’s Nuclear Projects, Carnegie Foundation, TOGZHAN KASSENOVA October 29, 2015 “……….Othon was at the heart of Brazil’s nuclear program during the military government that lasted until 1985, and he remained indispensable for the decades that followed. In 2005, he became the chief executive of Eletronuclear, an operator of nuclear power plants and a subsidiary of Eletrobras, a state-controlled power company. Eletronuclear operates Brazil’s two nuclear power plants—Angra 1 and Angra 2—and is building a third plant in the picturesque region of Angra dos Reis, not far from Rio de Janeiro. Work on Angra 3 began in 1984. But after two years and the amassing of 70 percent of the equipment at the site, construction was suspended. Only after twenty-four years, in 2010, did construction resume on Angra 3.

The corruption charges against Othon stemmed from the construction of Angra 3. It was while he headed Eletronuclear that Othon was accused of receiving bribes from companies vying for Eletronuclear’s contracts. He was arrested on July 28 as part of an operation called Radioactivity, the sixteenth stage in Operation Car Wash.

Othon is currently accused of receiving 4.8 million Brazilian reais (or approximately $1.2 million) in bribes through Aratec Engenharia, a company he owned. Brazilian media report that Othon’s company accepted payments for the development of turbines that generate electricity using river flow.

Othon’s arrest is not the only nuclear dimension of Brazil’s corruption scandal. Marcelo Odebrecht, whose eponymous company is Brazil’s largest construction conglomerate, was arrested on corruption charges in June. His company is accused of paying bribes to Petrobras executives to gain lucrative contracts, overcharging Petrobras for construction projects, and siphoning off illegal profits to politicians who, in turn, facilitated the conglomerate’s operations.

Odebrecht is one of the largest companies in South America. With operations in 21 countries and a workforce of 168,000, the equivalent of the population of a medium-sized U.S. city, it has been involved in major infrastructure projects in places as diverse as Saudi Arabia and Angola.

Odebrecht is the main contractor for Brazil’s nuclear submarine program. In 2009, when Brazil and France signed a cooperation agreement to build five submarines—four conventional and one nuclear—together, Odebrecht received a contract worth $1.9 billion to construct a new naval shipyard in Itaguaí. In 2013, Brazil’s then president Dilma Rousseff attended the shipyard’s inauguration ceremony. With Odebrecht’s CEO under arrest, the immediate future of the company is uncertain.

Brazil’s Nuclear Ambitions   ………..

Funding was pouring steadily into the nuclear submarine program. Since 2009, Brazil has spent $3.2 billion to build a submarine shipyard and a naval base. Brazil’s leaders promoted the program as one that would once again prove Brazil’s technological might—just as Embraer planes did decades earlier.

In 2010, construction of the Angra 3 nuclear power plant resumed, and while the government never touted nuclear energy as its priority, commitments were made to build up to four to eight new nuclear power plants.

Five years later, a very different Brazil has emerged. Foreign policy, let alone nuclear diplomacy, has decreased significantly on the ladder of Brazilian government priorities. Unlike Lula, President Dilma from the very beginning was less inclined to invest in an active foreign policy. Now she is too preoccupied with domestic problems to spend time on diplomacy. With her approval ratings hovering at 8 percent, foreign policy is unlikely to become a priority for the current government in the near future. The possibility that the government will actively pay attention to matters of global nuclear politics is even less likely.

National fiscal limitations and now the problems with Odebrecht will potentially slow down the nuclear submarine program. The broader challenges in Brazil’s energy sector, economic problems, and the investigation of Angra 3 contractors means that nuclear power plant construction might be further delayed. As a result of an ongoing corruption investigation, Eletronuclear suspended contracts with two Brazilian consortiums slated to work on certain parts of the construction process….

October 29, 2015 Posted by | Brazil, secrets,lies and civil liberties | Leave a comment

Former head of Brazil’s nuclear company will face trial

Judge accepts charges filed against former head of Brazil nuclear power firm Fox News, 3 Sept 15 SAO PAULO –  A federal judge Thursday accepted the charges filed by prosecutors against the former head of Eletronuclear, the state-owned company that operates Brazil’s two nuclear power plants, for his suspected role in a bribery scandal.

Othon Luiz Pinheiro da Silva will face trial for allegedly taking 4.5 million reals ($1.22 million) in bribes from construction companies for contracts involving the construction of the Angra 3 nuclear plant in Rio de Janeiro.

Judge Sergio Fernando Moro said in a statement that he also accepted the charges filed against 14 others, including Flavio David Barra, the top energy executive at construction firm Andrade Gutierrez and da Silva’s daughter, Ana Cristina Toniolo…….

September 5, 2015 Posted by | Brazil, secrets,lies and civil liberties | Leave a comment

Police asks prosecutors to charge former head of Brazil’s nuclear power on corruption

corruptionPolice ask that charges be filed against former head of Brazil’s nuclear power company SAO PAULO –  Police say they have asked prosecutors to file charges against the former head of Eletronuclear, the state-owned company that operates Brazil’s two nuclear power plants, for his suspected role in a bribery scandal.

A federal police spokesman who was not authorized to be quoted by name said late Thursday that the department wants prosecutors to charge Othon Luiz Pinheiro da Silva with money laundering and corruption for allegedly taking as much as $10 million in bribes from construction companies for contracts involving the construction of the Angra 3 nuclear plant in Rio de Janeiro.

Da Silva was taken into custody in late July and one week later stepped down as Eletronuclear’s chief executive officer.

The spokesman said the department also wants charges filed against Flavio David Barra, the top energy executive at construction firm Andrade Gutierrez and da Silva’s daughter Ana Cristina Toniolo for their suspected roles in the scheme. Da Silva, his daughter and Barra have denied any wrongdoing.

During Brazil’s military regime from 1964-1985, the retired navy admiral and nuclear engineer headed Brazil’s secret program to master the technology needed to transform uranium into fuel to generate electric power in nuclear plants. Da Silva also oversaw the ongoing project to build a nuclear powered submarine.

The request for charges to be filed come as police and prosecutors try to determine whether a kickback scheme engulfing state-run oil company Petrobras extends to other state firms, including electric utilities company Eletrobras, of which Eletronuclear is a subsidiary.

Prosecutors have said the scheme involved roughly $2 billion in bribes and other illegal funds. Some of that money was allegedly funneled back to the ruling Workers’ Party and its allies’ campaign coffers. It also allegedly included the payment of bribes to Petrobras executives in return for inflated contracts.

For Alexandre Barros, a political risk consultant with the Brasilia-based firm Early Warning, the Eletronuclear case shows that Petrobras-like corruption and kickback schemes are “probably present in other state-run companies.”

“Schemes like these have long been part of our culture and I think other similar schemes start emerging all over the place”, Barros said  “My big fear is that the armed forces may start feeling uneasy,” he added, without elaborating.

August 29, 2015 Posted by | Brazil, secrets,lies and civil liberties | Leave a comment

Corruption scandal may halt Brazil’s nuclear power programme

corruptionIldo Sauer, a nuclear physicist who worked under Pinheiro in the late 1980s, says Brazil’s nuclear program is too expensive and has been co-opted by politicians and major construction and engineering firms.

“The problem is the lobbyists who see nuclear as a chance to build expensive megaprojects with little regard for cost,” said Sauer, a former head of natural gas at Petrobras. “It’s no longer about science or energy. It’s about politics and money, and that brings corruption.

Brazil Nuclear Leader’s Arrest May Stymie Atomic Ambitions Reuters, VOA, July 30, 2015  RIO DE JANEIRO— The arrest of the longtime head of Brazil’s nuclear energy utility on corruption charges could disrupt a plan to revive Brazilian nuclear ambitions whose roots go back to its atomic-bomb program in the 1980s. Continue reading

July 31, 2015 Posted by | Brazil, secrets,lies and civil liberties | Leave a comment

Brazil becoming world’s top market for biopower

Brazil To Overtake US As Leading Market In Renewable Energy Metric By @DionRabouin IBT, on November 16 2014  Brazil will surpass the United States as the world’s top market for biopower, research firm GlobalDatareported. The U.S. remains the world’s global biopower leader for now, but Brazil is expected to increase its countrywide biopower installed capacity from 11.51 gigawatts (GW) in 2013 to an estimated 17.1 GW by 2018, to become the world’s premier market.

Biopower, also known as biomass power or bioenergy, is the use of any organic material to generate electricity. The U.S. has long been the global leader, but the report suggests outdated infrastructure and a bloated existing capacity that has saturated the market will lead to Americans being overtaken in four years’ time……

November 17, 2014 Posted by | Brazil, renewable | Leave a comment

Brazil cools on nuclear power plans; favors wind

Brazil will probably scale down its plans for new nuclear plants due to safety concerns following the 2011 radiation leak in Japan and pick up some of the slack with a “revolution” in wind power, the head of the government’s energy planning agency said.

September 17, 2013 Posted by | Brazil, renewable | Leave a comment

Brazil’s wind farms bring cheapest electricity prices

Wind farms set record low generation prices, SMH, December 16, 2012 Four energy developers agreed to sell power from 10 proposed wind farms in Brazil at the cheapest rates ever.

Enerfin Sociedad de Energia SA, Renova Energia SA, EGP- Serra Azul and Bioenergy Geradora de Energia Ltda. won contracts to sell electricity to distributors for an average price of 87.94 reais ($41) a megawatt-hour, Brazil’s national energy agency Empresa de Pesquisa Energetica said in an e-mail yesterday. (Australian wholesale prices are about $50 per megawatt-hour, including the $23 carbon tax per tonne.)

“This is definitely the cheapest wind energy in the world,” Maria Gabriela da Rocha Oliveira, a Sao Paulo-based analyst with Bloomberg New Energy Finance, said in a telephone interview. It’s 12 per cent lower than the August 2011 auction that yielded an average price of 99.58 reais a megawatt-hour. That was the lowest price in the world for wind power then and the least expensive power in Brazil, beating natural gas and hydroelectricity…..

December 17, 2012 Posted by | Brazil, business and costs, renewable | 1 Comment

Areas of naturally high radiation have also higher cancer rates

2004 Study: Two of Brazil’s High Background Radiation Areas Have Higher Cancer Mortality Via : quote:  APRIL 14, 2012

I have been told numerous times that “People in naturally high background radiation areas in the world suffer no ill effect from the high radiation.” I just stumbled upon one study in 2004 on such areas in Brazil.

Conclusion of this particular study: Cancer mortality in “Poços de Caldas, and Guarapari is higher than would be expected for their respective reference population”, whereas “cancer mortality for the Araxá population is lower than would be expected”.

International Congress Series
Volume 1276, Pages 3-468 (February 2005)

High Levels of Natural Radiation and Radon Areas: Radiation Dose and Health Effects, Proceedings of the 6th International Conference on High Levels of Natural Radiation and Radon Areas, Osaka, Japan
6–10 September 2004…

August 23, 2012 Posted by | Brazil, health | Leave a comment

Brazil ditches nuclear reactor plans, in favour of renewable energy and gas

Brazil shelves plans to build new nuclear plants Google News 10 May (AFP) BRASILIA — Brazil said Wednesday it has shelved plans to build new nuclear power stations in the coming years in the wake of last year’s Fukushima disaster in Japan.

The previous government led by former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva had planned to construct between four and eight new nuclear plants through 2030….. “The last plan, which runs through 2020, does not envisage any (new) nuclear power station because there is no need for it. Demand is met with hydro-electrical power and complementary energy sources such as wind, thermal and natural gas,” Energy ministry’s executive secretary, Marcio Zimmermann said in remarks released by the ministry Wednesday. “The 2021 plan, as far as I know, will not consider nuclear power stations either, ” he added, ….

May 10, 2012 Posted by | Brazil, business and costs | 1 Comment

Brazil postpones its nuclear power project

Brazil delays nuclear plans after Japan disaster RIO DE JANEIRO (MarketWatch)  Feb. 8, 2012, — Brazil’s plans to build four new nuclear power plants have been delayed by about 18 months following last year’s accident at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant in Japan, an official of Brazilian state-owned nuclear power company Eletronuclear said Wednesday….

February 9, 2012 Posted by | Brazil, politics | Leave a comment

Brazil’s nuclear plans a cash cow for France and a weapons worry

Brazil’s nuclear plans stir up debate, RIO DE JANEIRO, Nov. 30 (UPI) — Brazil’s nuclear program, including its ambitious moves to develop a nuclear-powered submarine with French help, is stirring debate that puts focus on the Latin American country’s long-term aims in the field.

Both Brazil and Argentina began developing nuclear capabilities while under military rule. While Argentina has expanded its nuclear power generation capacity Brazil has gone into nuclear fuel processing and hopes to deploy the technology into a nuclear-powered submarine it plans to build with French help.

Agreements for the joint defense production program are in place but, as the implementation nears, questions are being asked about its nuclear component. French President Nicolas Sarkozy spearheaded a marketing drive that secured France much needed cash in a deal that includes the supply and joint construction of four diesel-electric submarines and a fifth nuclear-powered submarine….. Brazil has an advanced nuclear program dating to the 1950s that has drawn support at various stages from France, Germany and the United States. ….

Brazilian analysts who disagree with the nuclear bomb thesis say a program that includes deployment of nuclear power in weapons wouldn’t pass congressional approval or win public endorsement….

December 1, 2011 Posted by | Brazil, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Nuclear submarines for Brazil

Brazil to build nuclear submarines which will dramatically alter balance of power in South America, By DAILY MAIL REPORTER 17th July 2011,  The Brazilian government has started work on a submarine programme which will include the construction of South America’s first nuclear subs.

The move will boost Brazil’s claim to be the strongest force in the region, and strengthen the country’s military assertiveness….

July 19, 2011 Posted by | Brazil, weapons and war | 1 Comment

Financial problems stall new nuclear projects in Brazil

“These nuclear projects take a long time to get off the drawing board and generate a lot of controversy, so they’ll likely be last in line to receive financing,”

Brazil’s Plans For Nuclear Energy May Face Financing Problem, By Paulo Winterstein, Dow Jones Newswires; AUGUST 16, 2010SAO PAULO, Brazil –Brazil’s plan to build at least five nuclear power plants over the next two decades may run into a financing problem as federal budget constraints limit spending by government-controlled utility Centrais Eletricas Brasileiras SA (ELET6.BR, EBR). Continue reading

August 17, 2010 Posted by | Brazil, business and costs | , , , | Leave a comment

Brazil enriching uranium, and potential for nuclear weapons

Brazil continues to have a program to produce enriched uranium for power plants, and opened its first uranium enrichment plant in 2006.

The Folly of Brazil’s Exceptionalism, THE HUFFINGTON POST, Daniel Wagner: 9 Aug 2010, “……..Brazil first embarked on a nuclear program in the 1930s and pursued a covert nuclear weapons program until the 1970s. It retains the ability to create nuclear weapons but agreed not to do so under the terms of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Agreement, and as a signatory to the 1994 Treaty of Tlatelolco, which bans nuclear weapons in Latin America. Continue reading

August 10, 2010 Posted by | Brazil, politics international, Uranium | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment



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