PM urges Spain to reconsider nuclear moratorium
Reuters, Thursday October 9 2008
MADRID, Oct 9 (Reuters) - Spain's socialist government should reconsider its moratorium on building more nuclear power plants, former socialist prime minister Felipe Gonzalez said on Thursday.
Gonzalez, Spain's longest serving prime minister since its transition to democracy and a leading figure in the socialist party, was a staunch defender of Spain's moratorium on new nuclear capacity when he was in power from 1982 to 1996.
The current Socialist government continued the anti-nuclear stance on its return to power in 2004 and has pledged to phase out Spain's eight nuclear power stations in favour of renewable energy sources.
"Given the technological breakthroughs in nuclear energy and the management of waste, it is time to re-open the debate on its use," Gonzalez said at an energy sector luncheon in Madrid.
"Some members of the government agree with me...since someone has to stick their neck out on this subject, I volunteer. We have to think again on this subject,"
Permits for running seven of Spain's eight nuclear plants expire between 2009 and 2011, or within the recently re-elected Socialists' mandate.
The goverment led by Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero has frequently stated it is against reconsidering the moratorium and has reiterated its commitment to renewable energy over nuclear as the key to reducing carbon dioxide emissions.
Spain decided to mothball plans for new nuclear reactors in 1984 as a result of public opposition to nuclear power following accidents and terrorist attacks on reactors in the 1970s.
Greenpeace activists board coal ship off Spanish coast
Mon Oct 6, 1:23 PM ET
MADRID (AFP) - Greenpeace activists boarded a cargo ship carrying Colombian coal at a port in northern Spain on Monday in protest at Spain's reliance on the highly polluting energy source.
The four activists painted "Quit Coal" in English and Spanish on the side of the 190-metre (627-foot) long Windsor Adventure, which was transporting 54,000 tonnes of coal to the industrial city of Gijon.
"The message from today's action is simple: to tackle climate change, Europe needs to end its outdated dependency on coal," Greenpeace International climate campaigner Agnes de Rooij said in a statement.
The action comes as the European Parliament, the only directly elected European Union body, prepares to vote on Wednesday on the 27-nation bloc's response to climate change.
Greenpeace wants the EU to block construction of over 50 new coal-fired plants in Europe as part of measures to cut greenhouse gas emissions by at least 30 percent by 2020.
The Spanish government imports 24 million tonnes of coal and provides 2.5 billion euros (3.4 billion dollars) in state aid to the coal industry every year, according to a report by Greenpeace Spain released Monday.