SPANISH DECISION TO PROLONG NATURAL LIFE SPAN OF ALMARAZ NUCLEAR POWER STATION WORRIES PORTUGUESE

BUILT ON THE BANKS OF THE RIVER TAGUS, PORTUGAL’S MAIN WATER SUPPLY, ANY LEAKAGE OF RADIATION FROM THE AGEING POWER STATION WOULD BE CATASTROPHIC FOR PORTUGAL The Spanish government has decided to prolong the life of the Almaraz nuclear power station by twenty years. According to Julian Mora, University professor and President of Fundicot, an environmental organisation based in Extremadura, Spain, this decision “is dangerous, because as power stations grow older, the risk of danger increases. There are more and more fractures, more cracks”. Professor Mora revealed to the Portuguese press that the original Spanish plan had been to deactivate the power station around now. Almaraz is built on the bank of the river Tagus. Any nuclear leakage into the river would be disastrous for Portugal, since the Tagus is Portugal’s largest river and it is crucial for the water supply of a substantial part of the country, including the main metropolis, Lisbon, the capital. According to Julian Mora, there are no external signs of danger at the moment but the decision to prolong the lifespan of Almaraz by twenty years significantly increases the risk. He points out that there were also no signs of danger before the accidents at Chernobyl and Harrisburg, USA. These revelations come months after it was admitted by the UK government that the nuclear power station of Sellafield had suffered leaks in the past which were not revealed to the public. Obviously, this is an extremely sensitive issue and the question is poised as to how many accidents have happened in the past without the public knowing? As nuclear power produces around 30% of Spain’s electricity, there is huge financial pressure on the government to continue with the nuclear energy programme. The point is, at what cost to human life?

Tim Bancroft-Hinchey Lisbon