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Almaraz nuclear threat: environmentalists call protest outside Spanish embassy

Environmentalists from Portugal and Spain have set a date to take the growing row over the threat posed by Almaraz nuclear plant to its next logical step.

Following Spain’s decision to effectively prolong the life of the risk-filled site (click here) – and Portugal’s ‘dithering’ over whether or not to to complain to Brussels about it – activists feel there is no more time to lose.

They have called a protest outside the Spanish embassy in Lisbon for next Thursday (January 12) at 6pm, and will be following it up with an international conference scheduled for February 4.

António Eloy of the Iberian anti-nuclear movement explains the moves are designed “to show that eco-groups are interested in forcing dialogue with the Spanish government and making it decide to close Almaraz” once and for all.

As many groups have been pointing out, the plant on Portugal’s effective doorstep (just 100 kms from the border on the river Tejo) should have been mothballed five years ago. Experts called in to assess its condition have pointed to “serious risks” (click here), and now, instead of addressing these the Spanish government appears intent on prolonging the plant’s life by siting a nuclear waste dump alongside it.

Fears among the environmental community are that this means Almaraz’s ‘life’ could be extended by up to another 20 years – a scenario that Eloy and many others dub “absolutely unthinkable”.

Adding to the sense of outrage is the fact that Portugal does not even have an “emergency plan” in place for the protection of local communities in the event of an accident at the plant (click here).

Meeting in Lisbon last night, activists have decided to forge ahead with actions of protest while minister for foreign affairs Augusto Santos Silva has assured journalists that Portugal is ready to lobby Brussels “within the next few days”.

Talking at a diplomatic briefing on Wednesday, he said that “(European) community legislation on environmental matters is clear.

“In this case, from our point of view, it has not been complied with and it should be”.

“If necessary, we will activate the respective procedure in Brussels. Spain will have to present its arguments”, he said.

January 12 is the date earmarked for the two governments’ environmental ministers to meet in Madrid, but as Santos Silva explained: “We are at a point in which we need to determine whether the meeting still has some useful meaning”.

Left-wing website has announced the venue for the February 4 conference as Fábrica de Braço de Prata, in Lisbon, while the Spanish embassy is located on Avenida da Liberdade.

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