The Iberian anti-nuclear movement (MIA) urged the Spanish government not to extend the permit given to companies to operate the nuclear power plant in Almaraz, Spain. The three companies, Iberdrola, Endesa and Naturgy, which run the power plant want to extend the operation of the nuclear infrastructure beyond the license, which ends on June 19, 2020.
The MIA issued the statement after it was confirmed that the three joint owners had reached an agreement last week to request the renewal of the exploitation permit of the plant. The renewed license will allow it to continue operating until 2028.
In their statement, the MIA claimed that the “two reactors of the Almaraz plant will reach 40 years of operation in 2021 and 2023, respectively. The extension will put at risk not only the Spanish territory but also the Portuguese, through the possible dispersion of radioactivity through the atmosphere, and the river Tejo, in case of an accident.”
The Almaraz nuclear power plant in Spain, which is operational since 1983, has been a bone of contention between the Spanish and Portuguese governments. The cooling of the reactors at the Almaraz plant has been done by using water from the Tagus river (flowing to Portugal), stored in the Arrocampo reservoir. Spain’s approval to construct a nuclear waste warehouse at Almaraz in 2017, without carrying out any consultations or impact studies, had evoked much furore in the region. Portugal has taken the matter to the European Union (EU), complaining that Spain ignored the potential cross-border impact, which is against EU rules. The Portuguese parliament had also passed a resolution in favor of the closure of the power plant amid suspicions that the building of the waste warehouse suggested an extension of the operation. Instances of technical failures have also been occasionally reported regarding the cooling plants in the reactors.
Spain’s News reported that the Spanish government, in their draft National Integrated Energy and Climate Plan (PNIEC) sent to Brussels, had scheduled a closure calendar for the Spanish nuclear reactors, contemplating the closures of the current seven reactors from Almaraz (2027), Ascó-I (2029), Cofrentes (2030), Ascó-II (2033), Vandellós and Trillo (2035)
In June 2018, activists from Portugal and Spain demonstrated in Salamanca, demanding that the Spanish government shut down the nuclear power plants and scrap the licence for the uranium mine in Retortillo near the border. The activists also urged that the operating license of Almaraz plant should not be extended.