MADRID Jan 2 Spain's incoming
centre-right government may allow an ageing nuclear plant to
stay open beyond a 2013 deadline for closing set by its
Socialist predecessors, a newspaper report said on Monday.
Environmentalist groups have protested that Spain is out of
step with countries like Germany, which closed seven older
nuclear plants after Japan's Fukushima disaster last year and
plans to shut the rest within a decade.
In 2009, then-premier Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero ordered
the Garona plant to close in 2013, by which point it will have
been in operation two years more than a benchmark 40-year
lifespan. Zapatero's decision came after the Nuclear Safety
Council ruled the plant could run safely until 2019.
El Mundo newspaper reported that Industry Minister Jose
Soria, who took office last week after his People's Party (PP)
swept to election victory on Nov. 20, said he was not "a
supporter of under-utilising that capacity for five years".
Soria was quoted as adding no final decision had been taken.
Industry Ministry officials were not available for comment.
Garona - jointly owned by Spain's two largest power
utilities, Iberdrola and Endesa - generates
460 megawatts of power, or about 0.5 percent of Spain's total
capacity, so closing it would not pose supply problems.
Running nuclear plants is profitable, however, and in their
unsuccessful election campaign the Socialists proposed
introducing a windfall tax on them.
Spanish voters are generally opposed to nuclear power -
which provides about 21 percent of the country's electricity -
and no new plants are planned.
Apart from Garona, Spain's seven other reactors are much
younger and expected to run until at least the 2020s.
(Reporting By Martin Roberts; Editing by Peter Graff)