Siting (and mining) at the Border: Spain-Portugal Nuclear Transboundary Issues

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M.d.Mar Rubio-Varas (Inst. for Advanced Research in Business and Economics (INARBE), Universidad Pública de Navarra, Spain)

António Carvalho (Centro de Estudos Sociais, Universidade de Coimbra, Portugal)

Joseba De la Torre (Economics Dep., Universidad Pública de Navarra, Spain)

Published Dec 25, 2018


This article is focused on nuclear transboundary issues between Portugal and Spain, two countries that share a long history of nuclear collaboration and conflict of late, where national borders played a crucial role. The issues at stake cover the full spectrum of the nuclear cycle: uranium mining, power production and waste disposal. The first stage, under two fascist dictatorships, was characterised by collaboration within a common techno-political imaginary, where nuclear energy was understood as a driver of modernity, but with the absence of the public in decision-making processes. The second stage was marked by the advent of democracy in both countries and the reconfiguration of nuclear policies: while Portugal abandoned the nuclear endeavour, Spain implemented a nuclear moratorium but kept ten reactors operative. The third phase, which started in 1986 and goes until the present time, was marked by two crucial events: joining the European Communities (EC) and the Chernobyl accident. The first event allowed Brussels to become a referee on Spanish/Portuguese nuclear disputes. The second one implied that Portugal expanded its institutional vigilance on Spanish nuclear activities and led to the emergence of transboundary social movements against nuclear power.

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