Deadlines included in Italy's new nuclear laws are drawing near. Siting criteria for new reactors are to be announced within weeks, but some local authorities are rebelling and key agency staff are not yet in place.
On the last day of 2009 the regional council of the Campania region - home of the shut-down Garigliano nuclear power plant - voted against any nuclear development, complaining that it did not agree with the central government decision to return to nuclear power. The blocking move follows a similar decision in the Puglia region, both inspired by language in the Italian constitution with specifies there must be agreement between regional and central government over energy developments. The Italian Supreme Court is the only body with the authority to interpret the constitution and is now expected to have to act.
The policy disagreement would appear to complicate decisions on siting the nuclear power reactors Italian leaders want built to bring lower prices and security of supply. The law that brought nuclear power back to the country required the government to announce criteria for selecting sites within six months. That law was adopted on 9 July 2009 and the government is now approaching its deadline.
A joint venture between Italy's main utility, Enel, and Electricité de France is working on feasibility studies towards 'at least four' Areva EPR units at three sites. Each reactor would be build by a separate build company, with opportunities for other investors to join. Other large European utilities would also like involvement in the promising Italian market and further major projects are expected to emerge during this year.
However, key roles remain unfilled at the newly created Agency for Nuclear Safety, also to begin operation on the same deadline as the siting criteria announcement. In an interview, Stefano Saglia, undersecretary of economic development, said he hoped the top management of the agency will be chosen this month. "I do not see big obstacles to prevent (the choice)," he said.
Reporting by Luciano Lavecchia
for World Nuclear News