Greenpeace protest at Spanish nuclear station

Greenpeace blockades Spain’s oldest nuclear power station with container full of activists

Greenpeace, the international non-violent direct action ecologist organization, has managed to block access to the main entrance to the Santa María de Garoña nuclear power station near Burgos. At 6.20am it placed a container blocking the entrance to the nuclear power station and secured it to the ground. There are around a dozen activists inside the container and also eight activists who have chained themselves together outside it.

Four security guards from the power station unsuccessfully attempted to stop the container being secured to the ground by Greenpeace.

However, the occupants of the container were not deterred and a banner on the container was put up saying ‘close the power station now’.

With this direct action in which around 60 activists have participated Greenpeace hopes to persuade the government to close this nuclear power station which is 37 years old and which is the oldest in Spain. By this method it hopes to get the Spanish government to comply with its electoral promise to close the power station made in 2004. The executive director of Greenpeace, Juan López de Uralde, said that Zapatero would be committing a serious mistake if he ignored the support that the antinuclear movement had amongst ordinary citizens.

Two vans carrying civil guards arrived fifteen minutes after the start of the Greenpeace protest. Although removing the protesters chained to both sides of the bridge leading to the power station should be quite easy removing the container with the activists inside who ‘are prepared to resist’ and who have supplies inside appears to be another matter.

Elías Fernández, a spokesperson for the power station said that at present it was functioning completely normally with all the employees inside and that if it wasn’t secure then it wouldn’t be functioning’. He also said ‘our job is to produce electricity which is what we do’. He also added ‘we do not agree with Greenpeace’s action but we respect it’.

The Garoña nuclear power station began working in 1971. Its permit to carry on working runs out in July 2009. However, the owners of the power station Nuclenor (owned jointly by Endesa 50% and Iberdrola 50%), have applied for an extension to carry on producing electricity for another 10 years.

According to information supplied by Greenpeace this power station only produced 1.28% of the net total of electricity generated in 2007 in Spain.

According to Carlos Bravo, the director of Greenpeace’s campaign against nuclear energy Garoña faces serious problems of corrosion and the small amount of electricity it produces is over compensated by the annual increase in renewable energy.