In 2004, the Spanish Parliament approved the construction of a nuclear waste storage facility.
To take this decision it was argued that 1) storage pools within the nuclear power stations were reaching their maximum capacity, 2) it was easier to unify the management of nuclear waste in one location instead of seven different locations, 3) it was needed to locate the nuclear waste somewhere else before desmantling old power stations, and 4) the nuclear waste from the nuclear power station called Vandellós I will return from France before 2016 and the cost of having the nuclear waste in France is 65,000 €/day.
As it was a delicate decision, the government did not want to decide where the nuclear waste would be located, but opened a call for the Town Councils to propose themselves to store the nuclear waste. 8 Town Councils from different Spanish regions offered themselves to store the nuclear waste facility.
In 2011, the Spanish government decided to locate the nuclear waste storage in Cuenca. This industrial facility would be authorised for 60 years.
Opposition to this project had already started emerging in 2010, when the 8 possibilities were made public. The different groups opposing the nuclear waste storage denounced the opaque process of selection and the lack of democracy: the Mayor of Villar de Cañas had not consulted the village inhabitants about his plans of storing nuclear waste and the final decision had been taken due to the political influences and tradeoffs of the Regional government of Castilla la Mancha. These groups were concerned about nuclear risks in storage and transportation and were also extremelly concerned that emptying the storage pools within the active nuclear power stations would mean that the life-span of these nuclear power stations would be extended, generating further nuclear waste. Besides, these groups were assuming that storing nuclear waste in Villar de Cañas would made the area doomed for the rest of its history.
Since the Spanish government decision, these groups have been developing activities to stop the nuclear waste storage in Villar the Cañas, questioning the very need of building such an industrial facility.
In 2011, the decision by the Council of Ministers to choose Villar de Cañas as the ATC (Almacén Temporal Centralizado de combustible nuclear gastado y residuos nucleares de alta actividad) had been taken although this village was fourth in the initial list of candidates. María Dolores de Cospedal, a top politician in the ruling Partido Popular and president of the region of Castilla La Mancha (where Villar de Cañas is located) was influential in this decision, as also in placing Francisco Gil-Ortega as head of ENRESA, the nuclear waste agency. Gil-Ortega resigned in 2015, after ENRESA spent lots of money in buildings and roads in Villar de Cañas that will probably remain useless, and that have been built by firms involved in corruption cases elsewhere with the Partido Popular. The region of Castilla La Macha has no longer a government of the PP but of the PSOE, less favourable to the ATC. There are also new geological studies due in 2016 that will probably throw doubts on the location of the ATC. A new DIA (Declaración de Impacto Ambiental) is also due from the Ministry of Agriculture and Environment.