At least seven small Spanish towns had submitted bids to build a nuclear waste dump by a deadline on Saturday, but opposition from regional authorities cast doubt over the long-delayed project.
About a dozen towns in all have bid for the dump, according to press reports on Saturday, most with populations of 500 or less, all hoping the 700 million euro ($982.8 million) plan will bring much-needed jobs in a country with some of the longest dole queues in Europe.
Spanish voters generally shun nuclear power and regional authorities, wary of the project, have substantial autonomy from the central government and some have announced their opposition.
"I am willing to take every political, social and legal measure, whatever it takes, to stop the nuclear dump being built in Castilla-La Mancha," said Jose Maria Barreda, who is government head in the central-southern region.
He has ordered his legal team to study the legality of lodging an appeal against two small councils in his region who tendered bids this week.
Barreda's counterpart in northeastern Catalonia, Jose Montilla, opposes a bid by the town of Asco, home to two of Spain's eight nuclear power stations.
"Catalan power stations produce 40 percent of all of Spain's power. We've done our bit," he said.
Three towns in northerly Castilla-Leon have submitted bids, but their regional government head said he would agree only if the central government reversed a decision taken last year to close a local nuclear power plant in 2013.
"The Prime Minister has appealed to consensus," Jose Antonio de Santiago-Juarez said. "He may begin to count on it when he reconsiders Garona (power station)."
Plants filling up
The government estimates Spain's nuclear power stations have accumulated 6,700 tonnes of spent fuel and will no longer have storage room on site as of 2013.
Parliament voted in 2004 to build a central, purpose-built site for high-level radioactive waste, and the United Nations nuclear watchdog urged Spain to step up efforts in 2008.
Spain's nuclear power plants are owned in varying proportions by Iberdrola, Endesa, Union Fenosa and Hidrocantabrico.
The project won little support from local politicians and cabinet ministers did not call for bids from town councils to house the dump until last month.
Many councils located near the bidders have voiced their opposition and environmental groups have staged protests, saying the waste will remain toxic for hundreds of thousands of years.
"If the government wants to solve the nuclear waste problem and close the nuclear debate once and for all, it will have to table a good plan for closing nuclear plants," a Greenpeace statement said.
ReutersLast Mod: 30 Ocak 2010, 16:12