Madrid demo calls for end to nuclear power

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Hundreds of demonstrators marched in Madrid Sunday calling for the immediate shutdown of Spain's nuclear plants in the wake of the Fukushima disaster in Japan.

Protesters marched through the capital at midday shouting slogans including: "Chernobyl, Fukushima...shut down nuclear plants now!"

Demonstrators, some wearing gas masks, held banners with slogans such as "Not another Fukushima", a reference to disaster that hit the Japanese plant following the devastating tsunami on March 11.

"Nuclear power has proven to be a economic, technological, environmental and social failure, that poses a serious to public health," said a statement from the ecologists, union activists and other political groups behind the march.

They called for the closure of the Garona power plant in particular, which, having been active since 1971, which is Spain's oldest. It is the same type of plant as the one at Fukushima.

The socialist government ordered the inspection of the country's six stations in the wake of the Fukushima disaster.

During the 2008 election campaign, Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero had promised to gradually reduce nuclear power in favour of renewable energy.

But Spain, which is looking to become less oil dependent, subsequently decided to extend the production life of many of its plants, outraging ecological campaigners.

© 2011 AFP

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