Vietnam delays construction of 1st nuclear power plant amid concerns over safety, efficiency

HANOI, Vietnam – Vietnam will delay the construction of its first nuclear power plant by six years, state media reported Thursday, amid concerns over safety and efficiency.

Faced with increased demand for power, Vietnam needs to develop new energy sources as its domestic coal and hydropower production is levelling off. The Asian Development Bank has said domestic electricity demand may rise by up to 14 per cent per year until 2015 and plateau at 11 per cent growth until 2020.

The country had awarded the construction contract for its first nuclear power plant to Russian companies. The second was given to companies from Japan. Construction of the first plant in Ninh Thuan province on Vietnam’s central coast was originally slated to start this year.

However, Tuoi Tre newspaper on Thursday quoted Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung as telling a government conference that construction will probably have to be postponed until 2020 to ensure the highest safety and efficiency standards.

Dung ordered the Vietnam National Oil and Gas Group, also known as PetroVietnam, to ensure gas supplies to feed a planned 5,000 megawatt power plant to offset the 4,000 MW of delayed nuclear generation capacity, it said.

Vietnam has outlined plans to build seven nuclear power plants by 2030, but there have been fears over nuclear power technology following the 2011 Fukushima disaster in Japan.