By Lise Alves, Senior Contributing Reporter
SÃO PAULO, BRAZIL – Four companies being investigated for bribes in the Operação Lava Jato (Operation Carwash) have announced they are withdrawing from the consortium for the construction of nuclear plant Angra 3, scheduled to go into operation in 2018.
Engineering giants Odebrecht, Camargo Correa, Andrade Gutierrez and Queiroz Galvão announced on Wednesday (August 12th) that they were no longer going to participate in the construction of the reactor, citing the non-payment by Eletronuclear, a subsidiary of state-owned Eletrobras for their decision.
Earlier this month Eletronuclear’s licensed president, Othon Luiz Pinheiro da Silva, was arrested after federal prosecutors working in the Lava Jato operation accused him of receiving over US$1.3 million in bribes related to the contracts of Angra 3.
The project for the Angra 3 nuclear reactor was first drafted in the 1980s, but construction was officially started in 2010. To be Brazil’s third nuclear reactor, Angra 3 is expected to generate more than twelve million megawatts/hour/year when it is fully operational.
Until March 2015 approximately US$1.3 billion of the US$4.2 billion allocated for the project had already been used, according to Eletronuclear. Agencia Estado claimed that Eletronuclear estimates losses of US$1.7 million per day if the reactor is not operational by the end of 2018.
The decision by the engineering companies to pull out of Brazil’s third nuclear reactor is just the latest blow to the Rousseff administration, which has seen the multi-billion dollar corruption scandal spread into several sectors of the economy. Brazilian newspapers report on a daily basis new investigations in different state-owned companies which seem to be linked to the Lava Jato scheme.