October 30, 2005

Italy environment minister floats nuclear option

MILAN (Reuters) - Italy could look at nuclear power again,
its environment minister told a newspaper, but added it could
take 10 to 15 years to build any plants and would need support
from the opposition to lift a ban on nuclear power.

"Nuclear could be a solution, but not before 10 or 15
years, if we consider how long it takes to build a new plant,"
Altero Matteoli told Il Sole 24 Ore in its Sunday edition.

Any such move would have to start from "a combined action
by the ruling majority and the opposition to free up the
mechanisms to replace the oldest, polluting power stations with
the most modern, efficient and clean," he added.

He said he agreed with the idea of grouping new
responsibilities for nuclear around Finmeccanica, as the
company had demonstrated "not only a first-rate technology
experience but also huge ... competence."

Nuclear power has been banned in Italy since the 1986
Chernobyl accident in the former Soviet Union. Prime Minister
Silvio Berlusconi, some politicians and scientists have called
for nuclear power to be revived but analysts and industry
experts say Italians would be unlikely to agree.

Sogin Spa, the company tasked with decommissioning Italy's
banned nuclear power stations, may be privatized.