Today (Thursday) environment minister João Pedro Matos Fernandes is meeting Spanish counterparts to debate the threat posed to Portugal of perpetuating the life of an obsolete nuclear plant on the banks of the Tejo river.
But as Matos Fernandes walks into the meeting this morning, and the national association of firefighters lends its voice to the rising crescendo of concerns, RTP news reports that the funeral of Mário Soares earlier this week served as an opportunity for informal contact between relevant ministers.
Foreign affairs chief Augusto Santos Silva is understood to have been given “the guarantee” that decisions made to site a nuclear waste dump alongside the plant will now be suspended, pending a “green light” from Lisbon.
That green light looks increasingly unlikely, however. Protestors are due to gather outside the Spanish embassy in Lisbon this evening, while firefighters have stressed the reality that Portugal is not in the least bit prepared for a ‘nuclear accident’ so close to its borders.
Added to this comes the alert by environmentalist association ZERO that the material destined for the waste dump will be bars of uranium that “no longer serve to feed reactors” that exist throughout Spain, and will remain radioactive for the next 300 years.
Under EU law, Portugal has to be in agreement with Spain’s decision to site the waste dump alongside Almaraz as the plant is so close to the country’s border.
As environmentalists have stressed, it is simply an issue today of Portugal “standing firm” and the threat of serious nuclear risk could be avoided.