Greenpeace urges Spain to shut reactors after Japan quake

Spanish government had vowed to shut the country`s 6 nuclear power plants.

Madrid: Greenpeace urged the Spanish government on Sunday to stick to its promise to close Spain`s six nuclear power plants in the wake of a feared meltdown of two reactors in quake-hit Japan.

Socialist Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero vowed during general elections in 2004 and 2008 to gradually phase out nuclear power when the lifespan of the country`s six nuclear plants expired.

But he has since softened his stance and in July 2009 the government said it would extend the operating licence for the country`s oldest nuclear reactor, the Garona plant in northern Spain, for another two years until July 2013.

Carlos Bravo, the director of Greenpeace`s anti-nuclear campaign in Spain, urged the Spanish government to "learn the lessons" of the situation in Japan and fulfil its promise to close the nation`s nuclear power plants.

"What has happened in Japan reminds us that nuclear energy is very dangerous, even when it is developed in a highly advanced country like Japan," he told public television TVE.

Bravo said the first plant which should be shut down is Garona, which he said has a similar design as Japan`s Fukushima No 1 atomic plant, which suffered an explosion on Saturday a day after the biggest quake ever recorded in the country unleashed a monster 10-metre (33-foot) tsunami.

The atomic emergency widened on Sunday as the cooling systems vital for preventing overheating failed at a second reactor, and the government warned there was a risk it too could be hit with a blast.

In an editorial published on Sunday, centre-right Spanish newspaper El Mundo said "there was no doubt that the accident at Fukushima will reopen the old debate over nuclear security”.

"It is very important as a result to dispose of all of the information regarding what happened in this case, which cannot be minimised or ignored."