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Portugal forced to drop nuclear dump complaint against Spain

nuclearPortugal has been lent on to withdraw its complaint to Europe over Spain’s expansion of a creaking nuclear power station near the border - both countries have been to sort the matter out between themselves.

In a cover-up approved by Jean-Claude Juncker, Spain’s government has invited a group of Portuguese engineers to visit the Almaraz plant on the river Tagus, to show how safe and well-maintained it is.

The invitation is for qualified engineers, no politicians will be allowed in, to inspect the plant and ask about the site's planned expansion to include a spent fuel dump, thus enabling the power station to remain operating way beyond it original planned lifetime to 2020.

The Environment Minister, João Pedro Matos Fernandes, told parliament that the joint visit to the Almaraz plant in the coming days, as agreed between Portugal and Spain, will be led on the Portuguese side by the president of the Portuguese Environment Agency with members of the Order of Engineers specialising in environmental impact assessments and nuclear science.

The minister explained to MPs that "no one from the government will go to Almaraz next week," given that this visit, insisted on by the European Commission as part of its instructions issued after a meeting in Malta on February 3rd, is to be billed as "exclusively technical."
 
"The objective is to gather as much information as possible and to understand the location of the spent fuel dump," said Matos Fernandes, knowing full well that the fuel dump is to be built right on the edge of the Tagus river which runs from Spain through Portugal (as the Tejo), making any leak of waste material a short-lived event in Spain but a problem stretching hundreds of mile through Portugal to the sea.

The visit is academic as Portugal and Spain already have agreed on the construction of the nuclear waste dump with Lisbon withdrawimg its complaint and Madrid undertaking to keep Portugal "informed."

The climb down by Portugal was announced on Tuesday by a joint statement by European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy and Portuguese Prime Minister António Costa.

Matos Fernandes told MPs that under the agreement announced on Tuesday, Portugal is committed to withdrawing the complaint made against Spain in Brussels but pointed out that if within two months there is no agreement between the two countries regarding Almaraz, "the complaint will be returned to the European Commission," even though there is an agreement, according to the EC president's statement.

Under this new agreement, that Portugal has been bullied into, the results of the environmental study will be released in a public consultation process sometime before mid-April, 2017 but is a pointless exercise with the Spanish already having issued a licence for the additional work at the plant.

As for the forced withdrawal of the complaint against Spain, Portugal’s environmental group, ZERO, said today that this was a mistake, but the fact the two countries are talking must be seen as a good sign and that the complaint always can be reactivated if Spain start messing Portugal around again.

“The Spanish State and the owners of the plant have revealed a huge lack of transparency and inflexibility and it is with surprise that we see the attitude of the Portuguese Government," comments ZERO, adding that any covert trade-offs that have been negotiated should be made clear.

Zero reminds us that the real issue here is ‘why build a new fuel dump to extend the life of the plant when it is scheduled to close in 2020 in accordance with the provisions of the plant’s license?’

The environmental organisation ended its comments today by stating that “the fight against the nuclear plant will only end when Spain gives up on extending the life of the Almaraz plant, which unfortunately is very far from happening.”

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Comments  

+3 #2 Ed 2017-02-21 23:07
Quoting Peter Booker:
Quite recently, the Ordem de Engenheiros was to make a visit to this plant at Almaraz, and the visit was suddenly cancelled by the Spanish at less than a day´s notice. Now the visit is on again. What´s going on?

The EU does not want bickering among the lower ranks so has insisited on various interim measures before the whole matter is quietly dropped. The environmental impact report (whitewash) will be heavily politicised and the Spanish will be allowed to squeeze the last drop od energy from this fully amortised plant which, therefore, is highly profitable.
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+1 #1 Peter Booker 2017-02-21 21:55
Quite recently, the Ordem de Engenheiros was to make a visit to this plant at Almaraz, and the visit was suddenly cancelled by the Spanish at less than a day´s notice. Now the visit is on again. What´s going on?
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