August 2000

Spain's Storage Plans for Nuclear Waste Draw Flak

Environmental News Service, August 1999

[Posted 19/08/1999]

MADRID, Spain, August 5, 1999 (ENS) - Environmental non-governmental organisations in Spain have reacted angrily to last weekend's decision by the country's Council of Ministers to build a dry storage facility for spent nuclear fuel at the Central Nuclear Trillo 1 nuclear power station in the central Guadalajara province.

The decision, on the grounds of "urgent national interest", came despite vehement opposition by local and regional governments.

Up to 128 containers each holding 21 nuclear fuel elements are planned to be stored at the site, which the umbrella campaign group, Ecologistas en Acción, claims is more than double the future requirements of the Trillo plant, the most modern in Spain.

Coupled with its central position and unusual ownership structure - Trillo is jointly owned by all Spain's major electricity generators - this has led the NGOs to suspect an undeclared intention of storing high-level waste from the country's entire nuclear power industry at the site at a later date.

Local observers say this claim was lent some credibility by the government's simultaneous announcement that its fifth national plan for radioactive waste envisages a 10 years delay in the choice of a site for a deep geological storage facility for high-level radioactive waste - a decision which was supposed to be taken this year.

At the same time, a source at Enresa, the national body responsible for the management of nuclear waste, confirmed that "fuel elements could possibly be stored at the new Trillo site for a minimum of 50 years."

The company says that the projected temporary spent fuel repository, which will extend the fuel pool's storage capacity, "will be exclusively used for the Trillo 1 Nuclear Power Plant, as certified by the General Directorship of Energy of the Ministry of Industry and Energy."

Trillo 1 generates six percent of Spain's electricity. It has an installed power of 1,066 MW. It has a German-technology Siemens-KWU pressurized water reactor which uses enriched uranium as fuel.

The 1998 annual report states that the plant has not recorded any operating incidents related to nuclear safety and radiological protection.

Published in cooperation with ENDS Environment Daily, Europe's choice for environmental news.
Environmental Data Services Ltd, London.

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