(FILES) General view of the Angra 1 (R)Brazilian nuclear power plant Angra 1[1] was resynchronized to the National Interconnected System (SIN) and started functioning again on January 20, 2015, at 16.46, local time, informs Eletronuclear Brasil[2]. Angra 1 had been automatically turned off in the afternoon of the day before, due to an electrical disturbance in the SIN, disturbance which had caused a sharp drop in the frequency of the system.

According to Agência Brasil – EBC, “the restrictions in the transmission of energy from the North and the Northeast to the Southeast, coupled with a higher demand during peak hours, led to a reduction in the electrical frequency as well as power outages in several states in the South, the Southeast and the Central-West” [3]. The frequency would have slipped from 60 to 59 hertz and, as a result, over ten energy-generating units were shut down, among which the Nuclear Center of Angra dos Reis, in Rio de Janeiro.

“With an overload in demand, the ONS (regulation body) has determined that the distributors cut off power to avoid the risk of a blackout of major proportions and a breakdown in the system”[4]. This caused a blackout in 10 states and the Federal District (DF) around 3 p.m., on Monday, January 19. The affected states were São Paulo (where operations of the metro system where hit), Rio de Janeiro, Minas Gerais, Rio Grande do Sul, Paraná, Espírito Santo, Goiás, Mato Grosso, Mato Grosso do Sul and Santa Catarina.

Rio de Janeiro’s utility Light declared its main priority was “maintaining the availability of essential services, from supplying hospitals and large-scale clients to keeping transport (train and metro) and water supplies uninterrupted”[5].

Explanations were demanded from the Dilma Roussef administration, with mainly opposition legislators criticizing the political machine of the electricity sector. “According to analysts contacted by Folha, there is a risk of further power cuts in the coming weeks, since the heat should continue and the low level of water in the reservoirs is critical”[6].

Nuclear energy resources and particularly the Angra center, besides acting as a strategic asset for Brazilian national power shows, at the same time, a significant potential to become a major weakness or vulnerability for the same national power, in relation to the extensive damage malfunctions may cause.

[1] For more details see the text “Angra1” on the official webpage of Electrobras/Electronuclear, at the Internet address http://www.eletronuclear.gov.br/internacional/HighTechnology/PowerPlants/Angra1/tabid/208/language/en-US/Default.aspx. The decision to build the nuclear plant was adopted in 1968. First chain reaction in 1982. Commercial use starting with 1985. the plant has a “rated power of 657 MW”

[2] “Angra 1 volta ser sincronizada ao Sistema Interligado Nacional (SIN)”, Eletronuclear Brasil, January 20, 2015, at the Internet address http://www.eletronuclear.gov.br/

[3] Alana GANDRA, “Outage affects three Brazilian regions”, Agência Brasil – EBC, January 20, 2015, at the Internet address http://agenciabrasil.ebc.com.br/en/geral/noticia/2015-01/outage-affects-three-brazilian-regions

[4] “Failure and High Consumption Cause Blackout in 10 States and the Federal District”, Folha de São Paulo, January 20, 2015, at the Internet address http://www1.folha.uol.com.br/internacional/en/business/2015/01/1577563-failure-and-high-consumption-cause-blackout-in-10-states-and-the-federal-district.shtml

[5] Alana GANDRA, op. cit.

[6] “Failure and High Consumption Cause Blackout in 10 States and the Federal District”, Folha de São Paulo, January 20, 2015, at the Internet address http://www1.folha.uol.com.br/internacional/en/business/2015/01/1577563-failure-and-high-consumption-cause-blackout-in-10-states-and-the-federal-district.shtml

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