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Spain shuts down oldest nuclear plant
THE oldest nuclear waste plant in Spain has been shut down for good after the government agreed to proposals from the opposition based upon years of clamouring by nearby residents and environmental groups.
Based in Santa María de Garoña in the province of Burgos, Castilla y León, the so-called 'nuclear cemetery' has long been a source of concern as residents fear their safety may be threatened if a small-scale version of the Fukushima disaster were to occur.
Electricity boards Iberdrola and Endesa had applied for the nuclear dumping ground to be reopened after it was temporarily shut down in response to public pressure, but energy minister Álvaro Nadal says this request has been denied and the plant will remain closed for good.
The Garoña plant is the oldest of Spain's 'nuclear cemeteries', but even the newer ones have now been in use for longer than recommended.
Another five across the country – in Ascó and Vandellós (Tarragona province, Catalunya), Almaraz (Cáceres province, Extremadura), Trillo (Guadalajara province, Castilla-La Mancha) and Cofrentes (Valencia province) – were built to remain in operation for 40 years, but by the year 2020 will have amply exceeded this.
Other countries, including France and the USA, have been building nuclear plants to last for 60 or even 80 years, but the Spanish government's opposition does not approve of this, despite the PP having already decided to renew the permits for the remaining five plants to operate.
The right-wing government's argument is that Spain's production of solar, thermo-solar, wind and hydraulic energy is not sufficient and does not have the capacity to cover all Spain's electricity needs.
In 2016 alone, Spain's National Grid (REE) needed 265.4 terawatts – or billion watts – to keep everyone hooked up to the mains.
Álvaro Nadal says without nuclear energy as a source of power, electricity bills would go up by 25%.
But the Garoña plant closure is a step forward, and the green association Ecologists in Action has praised the government for 'putting an end to the pointless soap opera' surrounding the plant's continuing to function.
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