Spain says "Adios" to nuclear power

Fourth European country to begin phase out

Feature story - 31 May, 2006
The nuclear industry recently launched a multi-million dollar campaign to try and revive the most expensive, dangerous, and polluting way to boil water ever invented. Spain is having none of it. The nation's president has confirmed that the country's 8 operating plants will be phased out in favour of clean, renewable energy.

For the same investment, wind generates 5 times the jobs and 2.3 times the power as a nuclear reactor.

Industry lobby groups have been trying to sell 10 new nuclear plants inSpain, and have fought hard for legislation that would allow existingplants to operate past their planned retirement dates.

ButPresident José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero has confirmed the government'scommitment to the phase-out in his State of the Nation address.

"Zapatero has shown true leadership in preparing the phase out of this dangerous and polluting problem and phasing in safe renewable energy sources," said Jan Vande Putte of Greenpeace International.

"All across the world the nuclear industry is drowning in debt, controversy and its massive waste issues. It is only kept afloat by the likes of Blair and Bush who are pouring billions of dollars of public money into an industry which reached the end of its life over a decade ago."

Greenpeace was part of a national coalition of environmentaland civic groups which on May 20th unanimously petitioned thegovernment to deliver on election promises of "safer, cleaner, cheaper"energy.  

Zapatero agreed not only to the phase-out, but toa widely consultative process to find a solution to what to do withexisting radioactive waste.

In a bid to resurrect a failing industry, regular claims of a nuclear power revival have been made - the most recent using climate change as an excuse to spend further billions to build more reactors.

But renewable energy is now taking the lead, with a single source such as wind energy adding more than 6,000 megawatts to the European grid every year, the equivalent to two large nuclear reactors. In only a few years, wind power in Spain has grown to 8 percent of the national electricity production. In 2005 alone, some 1680 megawatts of new wind power were installed, generating four times as much electricity as the Zorita nuclear power plant which Spain closed last month.

Spain joins Sweden, Germany, Italy and Belgium as the fifth European country to abandon nuclear power.

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