Nuclenor, the operator of Spain’s oldest nuclear power plant, the 466-MW Santa Maria de Garoña, on Monday appealed a government decision to close the plant in 2013. Nuclenor said it had “solid reasons to support the continued operation of the [plant] until 2019.”

Spain’s government on July 2 granted a four-year extension to the operating permit of the plant. That decision followed a nonbinding recommendation by Spain’s nuclear regulator in June to issue a 10-year operating permit extension for the 38-year-old plant that was scheduled to be decommissioned in 2011— on the condition that it is modernized.

Reuters reported that pressures to keep the plant open were related to Spain’s surging unemployment rates of 18.5%—the highest in the EU.
National grid operator REE has said, however, that power generated by the Garona plant—as well as five other nuclear plants whose permits are up for renewal by 2011—is necessary for reliable supply. The country’s nine nuclear plants provide about 20% of national power demand.

Sources: Nuclenor, Reuters