Enel sees nuclear plant operating in Italy in 2017

Friday, September 19, 2008

MILAN, Sept 19 (Reuters) - Italy, which rejected nuclear power 20 years ago, may see a nuclear plant up and running in 2017, the country's biggest utility, Enel, said on Friday.

Italy banned nuclear power after holding a referendum on the issue in 1987, following the Chernobyl disaster in Ukraine. But the nuclear-friendly government of Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has pledged to lift the ban and create conditions for a nuclear energy relaunch by 2012.

"With a busy schedule, we count to be able to make one power station operating by 2017," Giancarlo Aquilanti, head of Enel's nuclear energy development unit, told MF newspaper.

Enel owned all the nuclear plants in Italy before the referendum. Recently, it has been building its nuclear business abroad with acquisitions in Slovakia and Spain, and joint work in France with that country's power giant, EDF.

The government plans to select sites for new nuclear power plants in the near future so Enel can start working on projects, Aquilanti said.

The nuclear-energy revival plan, part of a wider energy programme the government has been working on, is likely to run into fierce opposition from environmentalists and ordinary Italians who do not believe atomic power is safe.

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