The Junta de Extremadura appeals the decision
Built almost 40 years ago to cool the nuclear power plant that was never commissioned, it has been used ever since to supply water to three towns in the area. The Government wants to restore the land to its original state in a maximum of six months
The Valdecaballeros reservoir (Badajoz) was not built during the Franco dictatorship at the risk of the Badajoz Plan, like most of the reservoirs in the Badajoz province. No. The infrastructure, with a capacity of 71 hm3, it was built in 1984 for cooling the nuclear power plant that, although approved and also built, it never came to work when the Government of Felipe González decreed a nuclear moratorium that led to the progressive stoppage of the works of the two reactors that were scheduled (Valdecaballeros I and II), although the works were very advanced (70% and 60% respectively).
Within the powerful infrastructures that were built for the plant -owned by Sevillana de Electricidad e Hidroeléctrica Espaola (today Endesa and Iberdrola), and which had ownership of its hydraulic use-, an enormous dam of gravity and a straight plant, which make up a great wall with a height of 36 meters and a length of 487 meters. The purpose was to supply water to the power plant, but since this It never came to work, its construction was used to collect water, make it drinkable and supply the towns of Valdecaballeros and Castilblanco. (about 2,000 residents between them and more than double in summer), in the province of Badajoz, and also to the nearby Ala (Cáceres) -about 800 inhabitants- in addition to providing irrigation supplies to a region that has a powerful livestock sector.
Almost 40 years after that decision that changed the future of the area, of what could have been and was not, by taking away a chance of prosperity for future generations, as they still lament today in Valdecaballeros, the residents are now facing, for surprise, to a second disturbing government decision: the demolition of the dam. It is ordered by a resolution published in the BOE on March 14 issued by the Ministry for Ecological Transition and Demographic Challenge, which has approved the demolition of the reservoir of the extinct nuclear power plant and its restitution of the land to its original state within a maximum period of time. of six months in which it is located.
By the way, it considers extinguished the water concession right that it granted to both companies in 1982 for the use of water from the Guadiana River, in the García Sola reservoir, where it reaches through the tributary of the Guadalupejo River. The high costs of the actions, still not officially specified, “will be at the expense of the concession holders,” according to the order.
It is, therefore, another ‘Valdecaas case’ for Extremadura that also has direct repercussions on the affected municipalities, which must necessarily “regularize” the water intakes destined to supply the population and, otherwise, the Hydrographic Confederation del Guadiana, according to the resolution, “must initiate the corresponding disciplinary procedure”. In addition, this resolution indicates that the intakes for the supply of the two towns be transferred to the Puerto Pea reservoir.
THE PRECEDENT OF THE POWER PLANT
This population considers a comparative grievance what happened with another Extremaduran town, Almaraz, where it was started to have since then the GDP per capita highest in this autonomous community, the lowest unemployment rate and population growth in one of those towns of the so-called emptied Spain).
Surprised by the decision the Junta de Extremadura -current owner of the land of the power plant since January 2020 and to which the Ministry has not consulted the demolition order- prepares a resource to avoid the demolition of the dam. Its president, Guillermo Fernández Vara, predicts that, despite being published in the BOE, the demolition “will not happen” and has stressed that “he does not agree either in substance or in form.” In his opinion, this type of decision cannot be made without the agreement of the affected autonomous community.
The alarm has been raised by the municipalities due to the risk of shortages and the loss of water quality for their neighbors, since the transfer of the water intakes through a new pipeline would change their origin, according to the mayor of Valdecaballeros, Gregorio Rodriguez Dueas (PSOE). “Now we have a water treatment plant and if they demolish the dam they would force us to move two kilometers to the south, which would mean a change for the worse in the quality of the water, because it would no longer come from Guadalupe, which is a mountainous area and where the waters come down. crystalline form”. In addition, he insists on the detriment to ranchers and also to the “natural ecosystem of the area, which includes an ecological corridor at the tail of the dam” and which will be affected by the demolition works. Because the other added problem is the “irreversible” environmental damage, also for the species, that it could produce in the existing fauna and flora in the around.
The mayor of Valdecaballeros stresses that the origin of this ministerial decision is motivated by the “pressure” from various environmental organizations, which stress that “this dam no longer has a reason for it to continue standing” since it was not used for its original use since the nuclear power plant did not exist. However, according to the councilor, they do not take into account that without the operation of the dam several streams in the area “are going to remain very dry,” which will lead to “serious ecological damage.” These organizations, including ‘Rivers of Life’, advocate that rivers function in their natural state, and for this reason they press for the demolition of dams and reservoirs built on them.
In any case, Rodrguez trusts in the appeal announced by the Board to prevent the demolition and regrets “the historical debt” that is owed to Valdecaballeros for that energy site that never came into force and whose facilities were abandoned except, precisely, this dam that now Ironically, it wants to destroy itself: “It is useless to think about what could have been and was not, although it would undoubtedly have been good for us”. Now, they strive so that the last vestige standing does not also end up struck down.
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