Controversial nuclear power station suffers two new malfunctions in three days

Almaraz – the purported ‘time-bomb’ that environmentalists are fighting to shut down on the banks of the Tejo river – has suffered two new malfunctions in the space of three days, though authorities insist that the situation is stable.

The incidents – the last of which happened on Monday – have been highlighted by Iberia’s Anti-Nuclear Movement and the Portuguese association “Ecologists in Action”.

As reports have explained in the past, Almaraz – on Spanish territory just 100 kms from the Portuguese border – is ‘obsolete’ as nuclear plants go, and was deemed unreliable by five independent experts over a year ago (click here).

Ructions in parliament have nonetheless led almost nowhere. The plant not only remains in operation, Spain is pressing ahead with plans to store nuclear waste in a facility alongside it.

Environmentalists fear “time is running out”.

They say a ‘disaster’ would impact on Portugal just as much as Spain.

The latest “unscheduled shutdown” was due to a malfunction in the reactor’s trouble-torn cooling system – the exact area pinpointed by the five independent experts last year.

As Carla Graça of environmental association Zero told national tabloid Correio da Manhã: “If the security system had failed, there would have been a radiation leak into the Tejo – with fusion as a worst case scenario or even a full blown explosion the likes of Chernobyl”.

But authorities are sticking with “everything is under control”.

Zero as much as Spain’s anti-nuclear movement and Ecologists in Action doubt this: A statement put out by the latter warns that the “accumulation of incidents” at the plant shows that “security is more degraded with every day that passes”.

Adding to activists’ concerns, says CM, is the fact that the U.S. company that ‘created Almaraz’ (Westinghouse) has gone into receivership, thus getting ‘spare parts’ is now also an issue.

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