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Sunday, March 26, 2006 - Page updated at 12:00 AM


Nations look at sites for nuclear plants

A look at some countries building or considering new nuclear reactors:

United States: No new reactor has been ordered since 1973. But a consortium of eight U.S. utilities recently announced potential sites for new reactors, and President Bush is promoting nuclear power. The U.S. reactor market could become the world's largest after China.

China: The biggest potential nuclear-power consumer. Beijing wants to more than double its nuclear-generating capacity by 2020.

India: Fast growth has pushed it toward nuclear power to meet energy demands. Bush and French President Jacques Chirac visited this year and clinched major nuclear-energy deals, overlooking India's refusal to sign the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty.

Japan: Has the largest reactor fleet in Asia, markets to other Asian customers, and has a major nuclear-reactor maker, Toshiba. To further reduce dependence on imported oil, Japan is developing reactors fueled by plutonium instead of enriched uranium.

Finland: Building the first new reactor in western Europe since 1991, adding to its fleet of four. It's the first country to use the third-generation nuclear reactors, choosing a model made by Areva and Germany's Siemens.

Baltic States: Lithuania is scheduled to shut down its Soviet-era Ignalina nuclear plant by 2009, but prime ministers of the three Baltic states now want to build a new one to protect their vulnerable energy sectors.

Italy: Italy gave up nuclear power in a referendum in 1987, a year after the Chernobyl disaster. It is Europe's largest importer of electricity — and has its highest electricity bills. Premier Silvio Berlusconi says he would favor a return to nuclear energy, though the public is opposed.

Britain: Is closing older reactors but considering building new ones despite public opposition — and has called in French experts to consult. It is a major customer for French electricity.

Netherlands: Extended the life of its one reactor in 2004. While previous governments had pledged to phase out nuclear power, the current conservative leadership says it must reconsider in order to meet energy demand and environmental targets.

Russia: Russia is slowly overcoming the public's post-Chernobyl trauma and launched a new reactor in 2001. It wants to invest $60 billion in 40 new nuclear-power plants over the next 25 years.

Iran: Iran has been building a nuclear plant at Bushehr for more than a decade. The United States and Europe fear Iran is using the program to develop nuclear weapons and wants it to stop nuclear activities.

Copyright © 2006 The Seattle Times Company




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