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National Atomic Energy Commission

The National Atomic Energy Commission is the Argentine government agency in charge of nuclear energy research and development.

The agency was created on May 31, 1950,with the mission of developing and controlling nuclear energy for peaceful purposes in the country.

CNEA's facilities include the Centro Atomico Bariloche (in San Carlos de Bariloche), Centro Atomico Constituyentes (in the city of Buenos Aires), and Centro Atomico Ezeiza . Research reactors exist in all of these sites.

Argentina currently has two operational nuclear power plants,: the 335-MWe Atucha I built by Germany's (Siemens) and the 600-MWe Embalse built by Canadian CANDU. A third one, the 692-MWe Atucha II, has been delayed by financial and political problems.


Officially established by President Juan Peron's Decree 10936, CNEA filled the need for a state organ to oversee the funding of the Huemul Project in Bariloche. Before CNEA came into being, the project was funded by the Direccion de Migraciones. In practice CNEA had only four members . In 1951, decree 9697 created another agency, the Direccion Nacional de la Energia Atomica (DNEA), also under Gonzalez, to do research on atomic energy in Buenos Aires (Gonzalez left CNEA in April 1952 and was replaced by Iraolagoitia) until 1955. After being assessed by two review panels in 1952, the Huemul Project was closed and Richter was no longer a CNEA member. Research in physics and technology continued in Bariloche, but no longer along Richter's original line.

In 1955, Jose Antonio Balseiro, a research scientist and member of the first review panel on the Huemul Project, took over the recently created Instituto de Fisica de Bariloche, now Instituto Balseiro, which used Richter's facilities in the mainland, but abandoned the buildings in Huemul Island.

The facilities in Buenos Aires were expanded after the closure of the Huemul Project, and by the 1960s became larger in terms of size and expenditure than those in Bariloche.

The Atucha I nuclear power plant was completed in 1974 and Embalse in 1984.

In 1995 CNEA's functions where divided into newly created separate organizations such as the Nuclear Regulatory Authority (Autoridad Regulatoria Nuclear - ARN), which supervises nuclear safety in the country, and the Nucleoelectrica Argentina - NASA, the company that operates the two completed nuclear power reactors. Today, CNEA mainly focuses on research and development of nuclear and related technologies.

In 2001 the original 1956 Directory structure of a President and five members designated by the National Executive authority was reduced, eliminating four positions of the Directory by Decrees 1065/01 and 1066/01.

Research activities

CNEA has currently three main research centers, as well as other activities in smaller units around the country.

The Centro Atomico Bariloche contains the Instituto Balseiro which depends academically on the National University of Cuyo. It has trained a couple of hundred physicists and nuclear engineers and produced hundreds of peer-reviewed scientific papers as well as other important contributions to applied and basic science.

The Centro Atomico Constituyentes has pioneered the construction of research reactors in Argentina, and has research groups in metallurgy, physics and chemistry. The Tandar accelerator is a large tandem Van de Graaff type facility dedicated to nuclear physics, condensed matter physics and medical research. It also has an academic unit, the Instituto Sabato, in association with the Universidad de San Martin that grants Masters and Doctors degrees in Materials Science.

The Centro Atomico Ezeiza produces nuclear isotopes for medicine in its RA-3 research/production reactor, and houses other research facilities.

The CNEA currently holds two U.S. patents(see external links)


Although power reactors in the 100-megawatt range have not been built by Argentina on its own,

INVAP S.E., a company owned by the Rio Negro Province, started by graduates of the Instituto Balseiro in 1976, has exported research reactors to Peru, Algeria, Egypt and most recently Australia (2000). The Australian reactor, OPAL, featuring a core power of 20 MW became operational in 2006, reaching full power in November of that year.


On the issue of the construction of Argentina's projected third reactor Atucha II, the Argentine government has announced (in 2003 and again in 2006) its commitment to complete the project, estimating it will cost a further US$600 million. Thus the total cost is now estimated at US$3.8 billion, or about $5500/kWh (considerably higher than the US$1.5 billion or about $2200/kWe originally planned in 1981).

See also


International Atomic Energy Agency

United Nations Atomic Energy Commission

United States Atomic Energy Commission

United States Department of Energy

Nuclear engineering

Nuclear physics

Nuclear power plant

Huemul Project




Dr. Raul A. Montenegro. WISE/NIRS Nuclear Monitor, November 12, 2004. Will Atucha II survive the truth? (PDF file)


External links

Official website

Nucleoelectrica Argentina S.A. - NASA

Autoridad Regulatoria Nuclear

-- "Process for the separation of components in multicomponent mixtures, for the case wherein the diagram of binary phases of the two major components presents a monotectic and their densities are different," 1976

-- "Ion beam deposition of diamond-like carbon films," 1996.

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This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article National Atomic Energy Commission

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