Italy's Council of Ministers has approved a moratorium of at least one year on construction of nuclear power plants in the country, which had been looking to restart its long-abandoned nuclear program.
Italy's Caorso closed in 1990
Minister of economic development Paolo Romani introduced the moratorium to the Council of Ministers the day after he had informed the Italian senate industry committee of his intention to do so. In the light of the European Commission's announcement of a program of stress tests at operating nuclear reactors following the events at Fukushima in Japan, Romani said that the moratorium would allow Italy to make "calm, informed" decisions on its nuclear program "not influenced by the emotions of the moment."
The moratorium only extends to procedures related to the construction of new nuclear power plants in Italy, and will not affect ongoing work on procedures for the disposal of radioactive waste, including the construction of a national repository.
Italy operated a total of four nuclear power plants starting in the early 1960s but decided to phase out nuclear power in a referendum that followed the 1986 Chernobyl accident. It closed its last two operating plants, Caorso and Trino Vercellese, in 1990. Decommissioning work is under way at all of Italy's previously operating nuclear plants. Over recent years, the country has revisited the idea of using nuclear power, and since a 2008 change in government policy utility Enel has proposed the construction of four large reactors, in cooperation with EDF.
Various legislative steps have already been taken towards an Italian nuclear revival, including establishing a framework for siting nuclear power plants with the involvement of local government, and a nuclear safety agency is in the process of being set up. However, the reintroduction of nuclear power has not enjoyed unmitigated support, and a referendum on the planned re-introduction of nuclear power, proposed by centrist political party Italia dei Valori, is to be held later this year.
At the same time the moratorium was announced, the Council of Ministers also approved an unrelated legislative decree amending existing nuclear legislation to integrate various technical amendments. The amendments will not come into effect before the end of the moratorium.
Researched and written
by World Nuclear News