Spending boost for Italian clean-up

24 September 2008

Work to dismantle Italy's nuclear power plants will be accelerated under a new business plan from the firm responsible for the job.


Garigliano (Sogin) 
Garigliano (Image: Sogin)
State-owned Societa Gestione Impianti Nucleari (Sogin) reaffirmed its willingness to speed up the decommissioning process in its new business plan for 2008-2012. The company has narrowed its focus on speeding up and cost saving: the decommissioning process was 8% completed in 2007 but Sogin wants to be at 41% in 2011 and 51% in 2012. Sogin's former plan targeted 37% completion in 2011.


Planned investment will rise from the €400 million ($585 million) of the 2007-2011 plan to €490 million ($717 million) in the new 2008-2012 plan with an increase of €51 million ($74 million) just in 2011. In 2007 the cumulative sum of spending was €95 million ($139 million).


"2008 will be a turnaround for the Italian decommissioning system. We will do three or four times more than what we have done in the past and we will decrease, again, costs" said Massimo Romano, Sogin CEO. He also expressed Sogin's strategy to conjugate efficiency and growth through a careful human resource policy and training processes. Sogin had 759 employees in 2006, which will reduce to 727 in 2007 and around 600 in 2012.


Sogin is 100% state controlled and funded mainly by the 'A2' component of the electricity tariff, specifically designed to fund nuclear decommissioning. The firm was created in 1999 with the handing over of Italy's four shutdown nuclear power plants Caorso, Garigliano, Latina, Trino from the state utility Enel.


In 2003 the National Research Council (Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche, CNR) transferred to Sogin its nuclear fuel cycle and uranium enrichment facilities (Saluggia, Bosco Marengo, Casaccia and Trisaia). Bosco Marengo, a former enrichment plant, will be the first facility to be safely decommissioned in 2009, with Trino nuclear power plant being fully decommissioned in 2013.


Italy was one of the pioneering countries in developing nuclear energy, and was the third largest producer of nuclear energy in the 1970s. However, a 1987 referendum resulted in the shutdown of all its nuclear facilities, including four power plants. Since then Italy developed a strong dependence on foreign energy suppliers, especially gas from Russia and Algeria, and nuclear energy from France and Switzerland.


Out with the old, in with the new


Prime minister Silvio Berlusconi, who won the election of April 2008, committed to bring back nuclear energy in Italy. On 20 September, at the presentation of a new regasifier required for the import of liquid natural gas, Berlusconi stated that in spring a new energy plan will be presented focusing on diversification of energy supply, with a major role for nuclear energy.


"Even if we are Fermi's country, we are in this very moment not producing any electricity from nuclear power, whereas in France it covers 85% of their supply," Berlusconi told ANSA reporters, slightly exaggerating France's nuclear capacity.

Claudio Scajola, minister of economic development added: "We are sure nuclear is the only way to cost effectiveness and in order to respect our environment."