Spain - Plutonium Investigation n°16

Spent Fuel and High Level Waste Policy

   Aside from fuel discharged from the three reactors discussed earlier, spent fuel bearing plutonium will be managed without reprocessing. In December 1986, CSN announced Spain would have some 5,500 tonnes of spent fuel discharged from its nuclear program by 2020, if the program continued at a steady state, costing US$5.5 billion to manage.

   The first Nuclear Waste Plan was approved in October 1987, with updates published annually. In 1998, the government announced several major policy changes as regards the management and disposal of spent fuel and long-lived intermediate nuclear waste (ILW) :
   These included:

- No decision on a choice of final disposal concept will be taken before the year 2010, following submission by ENRESA of its recommendations.
- There are to be no further siting activities until 2010, after which some form of ‘volunteer' process will be introduced.

    ENRESA has been developing a spent fuel storage cask with the American Nuclear Assurance Corporation (NAC) and separately with ENSA.

    From the beginning of the search for a site to dispose of spent fuel and high level waste ran into difficulties of public acceptance. In May 1987, Portugal objected to research planned at a site just seven km from its border. In November that year ENRESA was forced to abandon the research - despite winning a $5.5m EC grant to support it - after intense protest. In April 1988 antinuclear campaigners from the Coordinadora Anticementerio Nuclear strongly opposed plans to investigate a site near the Trillo nuclear plant in Guadalajara to assess its suitability for a spent fuel store (ATC, Almacenimiento Temporar de Combustible), resulting in violent clashes with the National Guard.

   In January 1995 the Energy Minister proposed a new radioactive waste bill, with a projected cost of $9.36 billion up to 2050. Further protests took place in 1997 at a possible site near Córdoba, and in May 1998 a special subcommittee of the Cortes recommended that Spain kept open all options for high level waste disposal.

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