ZERO, the Association for a Sustainable Terrestrial System, is one of the organisations that forms part of the Iberian Antinuclear Movement, which has called for strong support of the demonstration taking place on Thursday, January 12, at 6:00 pm, in front of the Spanish Consulate in Lisbon, Avenida da Liberdade, calling for the closure of the Almaraz nuclear power station.
There are four reasons that ZERO considers justification for the closure of the Almaraz plant, and the viability of a facility for the temporary storage of nuclear waste in an area adjacent to this facility:
The production of electricity from nuclear power plants is considered unsustainable due to the risks that it entails, both during operation and due to radioactive waste, which make it difficult and costly solution as well as being a source of non-renewable energy.
The damage associated with a radioactive leak, either into the atmosphere or into the waters of the river Tejo, can be very significant, as has been demonstrated at Chernobyl and, more recently, Fukushima.
In 2016, Almaraz was the Spanish nuclear power station with the highest number of notifications for security breaches. The last one was Hazard Classification 1. This is a risk which will be aggravated by the great age of the nuclear power station.
The Almaraz nuclear power plant, located 100 km from the border with Portugal, along the Tejo river, has two reactors: the first one started operating in 1981 and the second in 1983.
The initial project provided for a service life of 30 years. However, the Spanish Government has decided to extend its deadline until 2020.
In recent years there has been much pressures exerted to prolong the operation of the plant, and officials have already publicly stated that they had asked the Spanish Government to extend its life to 2030.
Spain remains largely dependent on nuclear energy, having in recent years regressed in the promotion of renewable sources. There are also economic reasons: on the one hand, the investment made in the plant is already fully amortised, so that the continued operation of the plant translates into high profits for its operators; on the other hand, the cost of closing a nuclear power plant is very high and it appears that neither the operators nor the Spanish Government want to face this expenditure in the short term.
The decision to build a nuclear waste warehouse at Almaraz is a very significant indication of the intention to extend the operation of the nuclear power plant once again by adding the risk of a temporary storage facility for nuclear waste. This will last for many decades in the face of Spain's inability to move forward with centralised storage and geological storage at depth, as planned. Zero’s non-acceptance of the alternative is included in the environmental impact study, which consisted of terminating the operation of reactor I at the end of 2018 and reactor II in 2020 with onsite fuel storage until that date. This was the accepted alternative. In short, the real reason for the construction of a temporary nuclear waste storage facility in Almaraz - the extension of the plant's period - is not explained in the studies and in the decision making.
European legislation requires consultation between member states for projects in one country that could affect others, such as the construction of temporary storage for nuclear waste.
Directive 2011/92 / EU of 13 December 2011 on the assessment of the effects of certain public and private projects on the environment, states in Article 7 (1) that "whenever a member state becomes aware that a project may have significant effects on the environment of another member state, or where a member state which may be significantly affected so requests, the member state on whose territory the project is to be carried out shall inform the affected member state as soon as possible and at the latest when informing its own public."
"The member state on whose territory the project is to be carried out shall give the other member state a reasonable period for this report if it wishes to participate in the environmental decision-making process."
Directive 2014/52 / EU of 16 April, amending the abovementioned Directive, amends Article 7 (4), now explicitly stating that "Member states concerned shall consult each other, in particular on potential cross-border effects of the project and on the measures envisaged to reduce or eliminate those effects and set a reasonable period for the consultation period. Such consultations may be carried out through an appropriate joint body. "
This procedure did not take place before the final decision at Almaraz.
In several environmental situations in recent decades, particularly in the area of water resources, Spain always has sought to take advantage during bilateral negotiations with Portugal.
The friendship that marks the relationship between the two countries should also be a guarantee of balanced negotiations, which have evolved favorably and which, in February 2008, were noted in a "Protocol of operation between the Government of the Portuguese Republic and the Government Of the Kingdom of Spain on the application to environmental assessments of plans, programmes and projects with cross-border effects"