Dispute over the distribution of money to deal with the closure of nuclear plants

Dispute over the distribution of money to deal with the closure of nuclear plants

If the Government’s commitment is fulfilled, in a decade the two reactors of Ascó I (2030) and II (2032), in Ribera d’Ebre, and Vandellòs II (2035), in Baix Camp, will stop producing electricity. An end to an activity that has created prosperity for half a century, with 3,000 well-paid jobs, from generation to generation, but also dependency and stigma for the entire area.

An uncertain scenario looms, full of opportunities but also threats, especially in the Ribera. To cushion the impact, the Generalitat devised the Nuclear Transition Fund. A shower of millions, initially 24 a year, to stimulate the economic fabric before the nuclear plants close. Not only in the two affected regions, but also in Priorat or Terra Alta.

The Parliament votes today the change of the Fons de Transició Nuclear, led by the PSC with the support of JxCat

The distribution of public aid, through a regulation that the Government has defined in the last year, has opened a bitter political conflict in Parliament with a direct impact on the territory, which is at stake for part of its future. The PSC, with the support of Junts per Catalunya, has promoted a bill to modify the Nuclear Transition Fund.

First of all, a change that does arouse consensus in the region. The modification, which will be voted on today in the Parliament, expands the funds to be distributed among the municipalities: they will receive 50% –and not the 20% expected– of the money collected by the Government through the tax on the environmental impact of nuclear plants: of 24 million goes to 60.

The main conflict is in the number of municipalities that should benefit from nuclear funds. With the new regulations, the radius of affectation is extended from 10 to 30 kilometers and more towns will receive aid.

The PSC assures that “systems and guarantees” can be found to prevent cities like Reus, Salou or Tortosa, which will barely notice the impact of the nuclear shutdown, from benefiting and harming towns in the nearest radius.

Catalunya en Comú has also sided with PSC and JxCat, although yesterday the door was kept open to negotiations with ERC, cornered and highly critical of the fund modification.

“I appeal to all parliamentary groups to be generous enough to put partisan battles aside and carry out a consensus exercise to ensure that we do not lose a historic opportunity as a territory,” says Albert Salvadó (ERC), delegate of the Generalitat in Terres de l’Ebre.

PSC, JxCat and Comuns have already achieved, against ERC, that the controversial modification of the Fons de Transició Nuclear is made in Parliament through the single reading. “It is a lack of respect for the territory, it seems that they want to prevent the mayors from being able to speak and say what they think,” criticizes Salvadó. The CUP also opposes the modification, but with other arguments: raising the transfer to municipalities to 90% of the funds and guaranteeing that it has an impact on small and medium-sized companies in the territory.

They distribute 820,000 potassium iodide pills

In recent weeks, the Ministry of the Interior has distributed 820,000 potassium iodide tablets for radiological protection in the municipalities closest to the Ascó and Vandellòs II nuclear plants. The pills replace the ones that expired this December. In the event of a radioactive leak by accident in one of the three Catalan nuclear reactors, the potassium iodide tablets would be the first protective barrier for the health of the population closest to the power plants. The pills are distributed in the 14 municipalities included in the nuclear areas of Ascó and Vandellòs II that are part of the so-called Penta plan (Plan de Emergencia Exterior Nuclear de Tarragona), between the regions of Ribera d’Ebre, Baix Camp, El Priorat and Terra Alta.

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