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    The 23J opens the political battle to have seven nuclear cemeteries or just one in Spain

    June 5, 2023 - CE Noticias Financieras


      The Government had been accelerating the work for the approval of the new General Radioactive Waste Plan (PGRR) with the aim of already updating the roadmap on how to manage the waste, how to decommission the nuclear power plants and how much and how to pay for all the work over the next decades. The Ministry for Ecological Transition has already drafted a final version of the plan and the intention was to give the last formal go-ahead in the coming weeks.

      The electoral advance leaves in the air the approval of the new plan. The department headed by Teresa Ribera has not confirmed whether there is any intention to move forward with the text before the general elections of 23J, despite the fact that the sector assumed that it was imminent. It was expected the approval in the coming weeks of the strategic environmental impact study of the nuclear waste plan, to subsequently pass the new roadmap by the Council of Ministers.

      The plan of the Government of Pedro Sánchez is to build seven different warehouses to store radioactive waste, one in each of the Spanish nuclear plants. The intention is to keep the nuclear waste in each plant after its closure, whose staggered decommissioning is scheduled between 2027 and 2035. The waste will remain there for decades, until a deep geological repository (AGP) is built with the aim of being operational in 2073 and to store the waste forever.

      The 'no' to Villar de Cañas

      After keeping both options open for months, the Socialist Executive finally ruled out building a single nuclear cemetery to store the waste and opted for having seven different storage facilities. The electoral contest that is approaching the general elections reopens the battle on this issue, because the Popular Party of Alberto Núñez Feijóo not only defends the review of the closure schedule agreed with the electricity companies and defended by the Executive, but also explicitly supports the option of a single storage facility and revive the project to build it in Villar de Cañas, in Cuenca.

      Barely a month after the arrival of Pedro Sánchez to Moncloa after the motion of censure in 2018, the newly inaugurated Executive paralyzed all the proceedings concerning the construction of a centralized temporary storage facility (ATC) in Villar de Cañas and urged the Nuclear Safety Council (CSN) to temporarily suspend the study of the project due to the doubts of the technicians about the quality of the land and the rejection of the regional Administration.

      The Partido Popular has defended in the last months the reactivation of the Villar de Cañas project in the Congress of Deputies, it also included it as one of the measures of its programmatic proposal to face the energy crisis and its candidate for mayor of the town of Cuenca has defended it in the last electoral campaign of the 28M elections (who has been the winner).

      While waiting to know the electoral program for the general elections at the end of July, the PP defended a few months ago in its document 'In defense of families and companies. For the recovery of the Spanish economy', "to unblock immediately the construction of the centralized temporary waste storage at Villar de Cañas (Cuenca)", underlining that the project "has more than 47,000 hours of technical study by the CSN and there are still around 800 hours to be completed".

      No consensus between AAPP

      The Ministry for Ecological Transition has been claiming that the "lack of social, political and institutional consensus" demonstrated during the period of allegations of the draft of the new General Radioactive Waste Plan made the option of a single centralized storage facility "unfeasible". The nuclear sector recognizes that this is due to the fact that no autonomous community supported the possibility of hosting the nuclear cemetery in its territory, despite the interest of some municipalities.

      In fact, the Junta de Castilla-La Mancha, headed by the socialist Emiliano García Page (recently re-elected with absolute majority in the last regional elections), has shown for years insistently and by all means - with legislative reforms, in the courts... - its total rejection to the construction of the nuclear cemetery in Villar de Cañas. The choice of the municipality of Cuenca to host the ATC was approved in 2011 by the Government of Mariano Rajoy, with the support of the regional government then headed by the also popular María Dolores de Cospedal.

      Clash with the electricity companies

      The Government's plan to build seven nuclear cemeteries is the option that generates more rejection among the electricity companies that operate the plants, for being the most expensive alternative (2,100 million euros more than making a single store) and for condemning the current sites of nuclear plants to store these wastes for decades and without being able to develop other industrial projects on the land after the decommissioning and dismantling of the plants.

      The nuclear power plant employers' association - which includes Iberdrola, Endesa, Naturgy and EDP - has already warned of its opposition to assuming the billion-dollar cost overrun that will be involved in having seven storage facilities and the necessary surrounding installations to guarantee their safety and the treatment of the waste. What especially worries the electricity companies, according to sources in the nuclear sector, is that the forecasts of what still has to be paid until the year 2100 to manage nuclear waste -19,200 million when opting for the seven temporary silos- imply an unexpected cost overrun of 2,000 million at constant prices in relation to the previous draft, which would entail an increase in the fees paid by the plants to finance the management of the waste.

      Endesa, Iberdrola, Naturgy and EDP blame these cost overruns on the enormous delay accumulated by the old project for the construction of a centralized temporary storage facility in Villar de Cañas due to lack of political consensus, and therefore refuse to assume them. The proposal of the large electricity companies included in their report of allegations to the draft PGRR is to consider these additional amounts as costs of the electricity system and charge them to the electricity tariff paid by all consumers.


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