Spain urged to close Fukushima's 'twin' reactor

15th March 2011, Comments 0 comments

A Spanish environmental umbrella group urged the government Tuesday to close the country's oldest nuclear reactor following the accident at what it described as its "twin" atomic power plant in Japan.

Ecologists in Action called for a demonstration on Thursday in Madrid to demand the closure of the plant at Garona in northern Spain and for a "sensible" timetable to shut down the country's five other reactors.

"The plant at Fukushima I is the twin to that of Garona," the confederation of some 300 ecological groups said in a statement.

"For Ecologists in Action, what happened in Japan marks a before and after for nuclear power plants," it said.

"No one can seriously argue that Garona -- which is in worse shape than was (Japan's) Fukushima I plant -- can continue to operate for several more years," the statement warned.

Spain's Socialist Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero vowed during general elections in 2004 and 2008 to gradually phase out nuclear power when the lifespan of the country's six nuclear plants expired.

But he has since softened his stance, and in July 2009 the government said it would extend the operating licence for the Garona plant for another two years until July 2013.

Built in 1971, it is the country's oldest nuclear reactor.

Since the nuclear crisis in Japan, Zapatero has made no mention of the atomic power plants.

On Tuesday, he met with the head of Spain's Nuclear Security Council, Carmen Martinez Ten, "to look into the Japanese situation," a government spokesman said.

Japan's nuclear crisis escalated Tuesday as two more blasts and a fire rocked the quake-stricken Fukushima power plant, sending radiation up to dangerous levels.

Greenpeace on Sunday also urged the Spanish government to stick to its promise to close the country's nuclear plants in the wake of the crisis in Japan.

"What has happened in Japan reminds us that nuclear energy is very dangerous, even when it is developed in a highly advanced country like Japan," Carlos Bravo, director of Greenpeace's anti-nuclear campaign in Spain, told public television TVE.

© 2011 AFP

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