New lease of life for Garoña?

21 February 2014

Spain's cabinet has approved a royal decree that allows recently shutdown nuclear power plants to apply for their operating permits to be renewed. The regulatory change could lead to the restart of the Garoña plant.

Garona - Foronuclear
Garoña (Image: Foronuclear)

The decree for the responsible and safe management of used nuclear fuel and radioactive waste states that the generation of radioactive waste must be kept to a minimum and that those who created the waste will be responsible for the costs of managing it. However, it includes an amendment through which owners of nuclear reactors that have stopped operations for reasons other than nuclear safety or radiological protection may request the renewal of their operating licence. This request must be made within one year of the cessation order being received.

Spain's nuclear trade body Foronuclear described the regulatory change as "positive." It said, "With this decision, our country advances towards stable sources of energy that are abundant, reliable, clean and diversified, and to an increase of its own energy resources, which would consequently make us less dependent on outside sources."

Garoña restart?

The amendment could allow Spanish utility Nuclenor to request the renewal of its operating licence for the Garoña nuclear power plant.

The 446 MWe boiling water reactor began operation in 1971 and was deemed by the country's Nuclear Safety Council (Consejo de Seguridad Nuclear, CSN) to be suitable for operation until 2019 given certain technical upgrades.

In September 2012, Nuclenor missed the deadline to submit an operating licence renewal application for Garoña meaning that it had to shut by the time its licence expired on 6 July 2013. However, the reactor was closed in mid-December 2012 to avoid a full year of retroactive tax charges for which it would have been liable if it was operating on 1 January.

Nuclenor would therefore have until early July to request the renewal of its licence for Garoña.

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News