The end of the NPP of Garoña

Santa María de Garoña is the oldest Spanish nuclear power plant that started its commercial operation in 1971, is located in the North of Burgos, very close to the Baske Country, and it is in the beginning of Ebro river, one of the most important Spanish rivers. This NPP possess a BWR reactor of 466 MW of electrical power, which is identical to the reactor number 1 of Fukushima-Daichi. The Garoña nuclear plant is operated by NUCLENOR, which is a society owned by the main Spanish electricity enterprises ENDESA and IBERDROLA.

Garoña was stopped in a unilateral way by NUCLENOR in December 2012 to pressure on the Government in order to get more favourable taxes for nuclear exploitation. This measure was a real advantage for the antinuclear side since it demonstrated that Garoña is not necessary at all. Since that date, a strong fighting between the companies, the Government and the antinuclear NGOs started.

Garoña is affected of serious safety problems as are described by the reports of the Spanish regulator the Consejo de Seguridad Nuclear (Nuclear Safety Council). In spite of this fact, this organism issued a positive report in February 2017 for the continuation of Garoña. This was a real scandal, but not new, since this organism has been emitting positive reports for Garoña continuation from 2009, despite the safety problems of the installation. The report issued in 2017 allowed the continuation of Garoña, provided a large number of refurbishments is performed. The cost of these works could be more than 300 million euros. And you would be still dealing with an old plant that can fail again in any time in the future. Given these economical and technical uncertainties, IBERDROLA announced not to continue with Garoña operation. But ENDESA, the other partner, was in favour.

On top of that, the Spanish society is demanding more transparency, more democracy and a fair distribution of benefits and risks. Therefore, the social pressure increased and became political pressure: the Spanish Parliament voted for the Garoña closure, after the regional Parliaments of Baske Country, La Rioja and Aragon manifested also their position for the definitive closure of the plant.

Finally, under all these social and political pressures, the Spanish Government took the decision of definitively stopping Garoña. It is a clear victory of the antinuclear movement that takes energy and enthusiasm to continue fighting for the end of nuclear power plants in Spain, in Europe, and all over the world.

Francisco Castejón (Ecologistas en Acción and Iberian Antinuclear Movement)

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