Almost 30 years after its construction began, Argentina’s third nuclear power plant has been opened by the country’s president Cristina Kirchner.

The 745 MW Atucha II is due to be fully operational in six to eight months and is expected to provide 10 per cent of Argentina’s electricity.

Building of the plant started in 1982 under the country’s military government but an abundance of natural gas and the Chernobyl disaster resulted in the project being suspended in 1986. Work recommenced 20 years later at a cost of $2.42bn when Kirchner’s husband and predecessor, Nestor Kirchner, decided nuclear power was key to Argentina’s energy mix.

“I feel very emotional about this,” Kirchner said as she opened the plant. “This place was filled with owls and rats when they opened it up because it had been shut down since 1986.”

Now the government has plans for a fourth plant to be operational by 2017 which is expected to add around 1500 MW to the grid.

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