Vietnam looks to delay Japan-, Russia-backed nuclear plants amid funds crunch

Kyodo

Vietnam’s ruling Communist Party in October instructed government authorities to revise plans to build nuclear power plants with Russian and Japanese assistance with a view to delaying them due to the government’s tight finances, it was learned Sunday from party and government sources.

The government is now working on a comprehensive revision of the plan and intends to submit a report to the National Assembly, according to the sources.

According to one of the sources, a considerable investment at the present time is “extremely difficult” given the financial situation of the government.

In 2010, Vietnam decided to award to Japan contracts to build two of four nuclear reactors in Ninh Thuan Province the country originally planned to construct by the early 2020s to deal with its power shortage.

According to the National Power Development Plan approved in March by the administration of then-Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung, the opening of the country’s first nuclear power plant was pushed back to 2028.

However, some members of the Communist Party’s new leadership selected at a party congress in January have expressed concern over nuclear power plant construction while public debt remains high as well as over the safety of nuclear power.

At the fourth plenum of the 12th Party Central Committee in October, agreement was reached to reconsider the plan with a view to its postponement.

However, officials at the Industry and Trade Ministry denied the possibility of canceling the nuclear power plant construction altogether, with support for introducing nuclear power remaining strong within the government amid the rising demand for power and environmental concerns posed by coal-fired power stations.

In 2009, the National Assembly approved a plan to build four nuclear power plants in Ninh Thuan Province in the central part of the country.

While the first plant was originally slated to become operational in 2020, after the March 2011 meltdowns at the Fukushima No. 1 power plant, the government ordered relevant agencies to review measures to ensure safety in the project, leading to a delay.

Under the current plan, Vietnam’s first nuclear power plant, the Ninh Thuan 1 Nuclear Power Plant to be built by Russia, will begin commercial operation in 2028, while the second power plant to be built by a Japanese consortium will come online in 2029. It is yet to be decided when construction will begin.