The odyssey of nuclear energy in Romania. How the Americans sabotaged the development of the large Cernavoda nuclear power plant (I)

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By Constantin Radut
With the change in the European Commission’s energy projection, by including nuclear and natural gas in the area of ​​”green” energy, many EU member states have begun to be drawn to these resources in their energy policy. The most vivid example is Poland, a conservative country highly dependent on the United States. The departure of a senior Polish official in the US has unleashed the Warsaw press, which already sees this pre-Baltic state as a major innovator in energy.
In Romania there is a tradition in the development of nuclear energy projects using Western technology. The Cernavoda plant (in operation for about 20 years) uses Canadian CANDU technology, being the only one in the former socialist bloc that did not borrow Soviet and Russian technologies. Before 1990, Romania had a real industrial fabric for the manufacture of the plant’s technological equipment. Uranium and uranium mining mines were also developed, as well as heavy water mines used in the operation of Cernavoda’s nuclear reactors.
Currently, at the Cernavoda Nuclear Power Plant, there are two groups of 700 MW each, and two other groups have been abandoned due to a lack of financial funds after the fall of the communist regime.
Nuclearelectrica National Company SNN S.A. coordoneaza Centrala de la Cernavoda. The main activity fields of SNN SA are centered on the generation of electrical and thermal power, and manufacturing of nuclear fuel. SNN SA also coordinates the investment-development activities as well as the human resources training and optimization.
SN Nuclearelectrica SA has two branches, no legal person: >>> Cernavoda NPP Division operating Cernavoda NPP Units 1 and 2 and the auxiliary services and performing the preservation of Unit 3, 4 & 5 until completion and commissioning; >>> FCN – Pitesti, the Nuclear Fuel Plant – manufacturing nuclear fuel for Cernavoda NPP Units 1 & 2.
The development of new nuclear units in Romania has been discussed since 2003. The feasibility study conducted by Deloitte & Touche and submitted to the Board of Directors of SNN SA, in March 2006, identified the setting up of a Project Company made up of local and foreign investors as an optimal solution for the completion of the Cernavoda NPP’s Units 3 and 4.
The Romanian Government demonstrated their commitment to this project when, in a press release, on 14 September 2006, they announced the building of two new nuclear units in Romania.
Units 3 and 4 have been under preservation since 1992. Total completion ratio: Unit 3 is almost 15% completed while Unit 4 is 14% completed, which means, mainly, civil works performed to the Reactor Building, Turbine Building, and Service Building.
Decision No. 643/2007 of the Romanian Government approved the strategy for attracting investors for the Cernavoda NPP’s Units 3 and 4, including the schedule for setting up a new company responsible for this project completion. Following the tenders submission, six companies were selected to carry out the project. After rounds of negotiations with the selected investors, which took place between December 2007 and November 2008, the Romanian Government approved, through Decision No. 1565/2008, the Investors Agreement and the Articles of Association, whereby each investor receives a percentage of the total number of shares, proportionally to the invested capital: Nuclearelectrica (51%), ArcelorMittal Romania (6.2%), CEZ, Czech Republic (9.15%), GDF SUEZ Belgium (9.15%), ENEL, Italy (9.15%), Iberdrola Spain (6.2%), and RWE Power Germany (9.15%).
On March 29, 2009, the project company was registered as S.C. EnergoNuclear S.A. with the National Trade Register Office, and the management team was appointed. EnergoNuclear is a public-private capital company.

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