The tam tam has begun: the nuclear lobby sharpens its weapons to relaunch the Italian atom. Possibly in Albania, to avoid citizens' protests and circumvent the 1987 referendum.
The elections have passed, the government still has to be born, but for some days Giulio Tremonti has been letting go of fairly dangerous nuclear fantasies. In recent days, the Milanese energy company Edison presented a forecast study on the electricity demand that takes into account the relationship between «expected consumption» and «available production»: according to forecasts, in 2030 Italy will have a need for 545 Twh of electricity. Therefore, current production is not enough. On the one hand, Enel relies heavily on coal, as it is faster and less expensive; on the other hand, there is the obligation to respect the constraint placed by the EU on Italy, which envisages reducing 20 emissions to 100% compared to 1990: therefore Italian power plants will not be able to produce more than 88 million tons of carbon dioxide. Edison, who at the 50 per cent owned by the French EDF, concludes by declaring that it sees nuclear as the solution.
In reality, Enel's competence, which came to a halt in the 1987 with the referendum that rejected nuclear power in Italy, developed only partially and only abroad, essentially based on old Soviet technologies such as in Slovakia and Bulgaria, where it is building enough plants on the Soviet VVER. Beyond this, there would remain the usual problem: where to locate nuclear power plants, in a country that has a territory full of densely populated areas, seismic and volcanic regions, and that does not even have a national site where to place the waste.
On this level moves Giulio Tremonti, who has already devised a project that he himself calls "delocalized nuclear power". The project was presented a few days before the elections, but now with the third Berlusconi government, it seems that the Italians have automatically accepted nuclear power. At the same time, we know that in the case of the actual construction of a power plant, very few citizens would be willing to keep it close to home.
Tremonti's idea is to build the power plants perhaps in that Albania that offers illegal immigrants. The proposal, which is in the program of the coalition that is going to govern Italy, risks becoming a reality. With him also Casini, who has always professed himself a pro-nuclear and also willing to deny the referendum. In disagreement with the whole line is Gianni Silvestrini, scientific director of the Kyoto Club, who in an editorial of the monthly newsletter «KyotoClubNews» states: «By the 2012 the additional production of solar and wind electricity worldwide should be at least four times higher than the contribution net addition of nuclear energy ". «Considering the trends of the coming years - continues Silvestrini - it is evident that, in absolute values, wind and sun will exceed the new installed nuclear power. But there is another element that is taken into consideration and that is the closure of 11 nuclear power plants that could bring photovoltaics to touch a share equal to 40 per cent of the net nuclear contribution ".
On the scientific and technological level, meanwhile, the nuclear industry is once again being discussed. This time because Peter Henderson, a researcher at the University of Oxford, published a study on the impact of cooling systems on British coastal power plants on the marine population. According to Henderson, the nuclear industry kills billions of fish in Britain every year. Cooling systems pump huge quantities of water from the sea: a nuclear plant also extracts 60 cubic meters of water per second, up to an 120 record for the Gravelines plant on the French north coast. The water that was used to cool the reactors is then pumped back into the sea. Having been heated, it attracts numerous marine species that are consequently captured by the intake system and killed. According to Henderson, the English Channel is the region most affected by the phenomenon.
Finally, precisely the 15 April, the Spanish Nuclear Safety Council [CSN] has initiated checks on approximately 700 people, after the communication by the electric group Endesa [owned by Enel] of a radioactive leak in the nuclear power plant of Ascò , in the province of Tarragona. The leak occurred in November during a maintenance operation and only the 4 April was announced. According to the CSN, the extent of the escape would have been minimized in Endesa's communication. In a statement issued to El Pais, the deputy director of radiological protection at the CSN, Manuel Rodriguez, said that the escape "was 100 times higher than what the power plant declared". Sanctions could be taken against the Endesa group for having provided, according to the CSN, "incomplete information". Probably this is a problem that will never touch Italy, given that any radioactive leaks will one day affect Albania.
Previously published in www.carta.org
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