President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner (CFK) opened on Wednesday the country’s third nuclear plant Atucha II, in the Greater Buenos Aires district of Zárate, and highlighted the fact that “Argentina is leader in the use of nuclear power for peaceful purposes.”
“Argentine scientists have never used their neurons to destroy the lives of other beings. We are peaceful people, good people, not everyone can say that” Fernández de Kirchner stressed. She also said that Argentina is diversifying and expanding its energy grid.
Mrs. Kirchner announced that 45.5% more megawatts of energy have been implemented since 2003. ”In the past 8 years, new factories, businesses and workshops have needed more energy,” she said.
“I think that it is us, the Bicentennial generation, that is repaying that debt that the country had for decades, and that for different reasons and external interference, prevented Argentina from having nuclear power,” CFK added, and recalled that Argentina was the first Latin American country to implement nuclear power.
“Somewhere up there he (Nestor Kirchner) must be looking on and seeing all he did was not in vain”, said Cristina Fernandez who in political events tends to evoke the figure of her late husband.
With less than a month for the presidential election, the activation of Atucha II was broadcasted by all public and cable news networks.
The German-designed Atucha II plant is expected to be fully operational in six to eight months after engineers run a series of tests.
Construction on the plant began in the early 1980s, but worked soon stopped and did not resume until 2006, when then-president Kirchner (2003-2007), ordered the plant to be completed.
Argentina currently relies heavily on natural gas and oil for its energy, much of which is imported. Once fully operational, Atucha II will supply some 700 megawatts of energy to the power grid, enough for the needs of some four million people. Argentina has just over 40 million people.
Argentina's other nuclear plants are Atucha I (335 megawatts) and the Embalse plant (600 megawatts). Once the new plant is online 10% of Argentina's electrical needs will be provided by nuclear power.
Plans are on the drawing board for an Atucha III nuclear plant as well as an overhaul of the Embalse plant to add 30 years to its operational life and the construction of the Caren nuclear reactor designed by Argentine minds, advanced President Cristina Fernandez.
Atucha II is located on the banks of the Parana River in the town of Zarate, in Buenos Aires province, some 100 kilometres (62 miles) north of the capital. It was built at a cost of more than 2.4 billion dollars.
Finally CFK said that in the last eight years “we Argentines have been protagonists of the most important economic growth we can proudly say we are the country, after China that has seen its economy grow most in the world”.