Spain says its oldest nuclear power station could stay open for another four years despite a pledge to close it in 2011.
The 500 megawatt Garona nuclear plant near Burgos in the north of Spain produces less than 2 per cent of the country’s energy.
Environmentalists want it closed. Unions want it to stay open to save jobs.
Spain’s Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero said: “The decision could be criticised from different sides. But there is a balanced and responsible decision to make and one which is good for the country”.
Whether Garona stays open is the Socialist government’s first test of its electoral pledge to phase out nuclear energy.
Workers’ representative Alberto Cesar Gonzalez
said: “The worst part is for the workers, of course. We are going to fight and we have fought for closure in 2019. The Nuclear Safety Council says so …and we are very clear about that: our jobs are in nuclear plants until 2019.”
Spain has extensive alternatives to nuclear power.
It is the world’s second biggest producer of solar energy and third biggest generator of wind power.