Vietnam says Russia's Rosatom to build nuclear plant

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Russia's state-owned Rosatom Corp. has been selected to take part in the construction of Vietnam's first nuclear power plant, according to the head of a Vietnamese government agency regulating industry safety.

Vietnam plans to build as many as 10 nuclear power plants, with construction of the first, in the south-central coastal province of Ninh Thuan, scheduled to begin in 2014, said Ngo Dang Nhan, director general of the Vietnam Agency for Radiation and Nuclear Safety.

"Russia will help Vietnam with the first nuclear plant," said Nhan, speaking to journalists at a conference in Hanoi Thursday. "For other plants, we will invite more contractors from America, Japan and France, which have all shown interest," he said, without naming any companies.

Vietnam is developing new sources of energy to meet demand from its increasingly wealthy population of 86 million, as the government forecasts that economic growth will quicken to as much as 8 percent annually through 2020. Residents of cities including Ho Chi Minh City, the nation's largest, and the capital Hanoi, are subject to periodic daylong power cuts.

"Before we thought that hydropower would be sufficient to provide power in Vietnam, but it turned out that in some periods it's not enough," said Nhan. "For our region, we are developing nuclear power plants quite quickly."

Malaysia, Thailand

Among regional countries that do not yet have nuclear power plants, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam all have "firm plans" to introduce them, though none is expected to be in operation before 2020, the World Bank said in an April report on sustainable energy in Asia.

Moscow-based Rosatom, Russia's state atomic energy corporation, last month signed an agreement to build a power plant with four nuclear reactors in Turkey, at a cost of about $20 billion. Nhan of Vietnam's nuclear safety agency declined to estimate a cost for building the first plant in the country.

Rosatom's reactor builder, Atomstroyexport ZAO, "will manage the whole process of construction of the nuclear plant" in Vietnam, Alexander Katsman, deputy technical director of the group's power plant operating unit, OAO Rosenergoatom, said in an interview in Hanoi Thursday. Rosenergoatom will train personnel and provide technical support once the plant is in operation, he said.

Toshiba Corp., Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd., and Hitachi Ltd., had bid together for a nuclear plant project in Vietnam, Nikkei English News reported in February.

In March, the Vietnamese and US governments signed an agreement on nuclear energy which called for cooperation in developing the regulatory and physical infrastructure needed for a safe and secure Vietnamese civilian nuclear power sector.

"The Russians are in a very good position for the first power plant," US Ambassador to Vietnam Michael Michalak said in a telephone interview Thursday. "The Vietnamese are also very interested in American technology."

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