THE PORTUGUESE government has decided to shelve ambitious plans to build nuclear power stations on the mainland. Initially considered an interesting and viable project by the Minister of Economics, Manuel Pinho, a project to build the country’s first electricity generating nuclear power plant has been rejected by the Socialist government.
Environmental impact studies and environmental groups have highlighted the dangers of another Chernobyl or Three Mile Island – the two worst nuclear accidents in history. However, proponents for nuclear energy point out that there are already nine nuclear reactors in Spain. One of these reactors – Vandellos II (Tarragona) – is up and running again after being shut for six months. The interruption of the power station’s activities was caused by a breakdown in its refrigeration system.
Advocates of nuclear energy also point out that nuclear power stations fulfil the requirements of the Kyoto Treaty that fixes limits on greenhouse gas emissions produced by burning fossil fuels.
“Nuclear energy effectively does not emit hydrocarbons and methane, but looking globally, the risk of contamination from a nuclear accident is far higher than from developing conventional power stations that use sustainable and renewable energy sources,” claims environmental watchdog, Quercus, in a statement.