Nuclear waste storage near the Spanish frontier, Portugal

"We don’t want to be Europe’s nuclear waste dump" - Border communities resist being burdened with toxic waste with a half-life of of 50.000-500.000 years.


In 1987 the Spanish government began to study the possibility to build a pilot project for nuclear waste storage near Portugal’s border. The site for the proposed project was Aldeadávila de la Ribera (Zamora, Spain), a village located in the basin of the International Douro and 4 km from the Portuguese border on the Douro River, which at the time was water provider for roughly half of the 10 million Portuguese.

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Basic Data
NameNuclear waste storage near the Spanish frontier, Portugal
Site Freixo de Espada à Cinta
Accuracy of LocationHIGH local level
Source of Conflict
Type of Conflict (1st level)Nuclear
Type of Conflict (2nd level)Nuclear waste storage
Specific CommoditiesIndustrial waste
Project Details and Actors
Level of Investment (in USD)US$ 5.6 million in European Community funds were requested
Type of PopulationRural
Start Date01/01/1987
Company Names or State EnterprisesBerkeley Minera España S.A (Berkeley) from Australia - Principal stakeholder
Relevant government actorsEmpresa Nacional de Resíduos Radioativos;

Ministério do Ambiente;

Ministério dos Negócios Estrangeiros;

Ministério de Indústria e Energia
International and Financial InstitutionsEuropean Commission (EC)
Environmental justice organisations and other supportersAssociation of Municipalities of Trás-os-Montes and Alto Douro; QUERCUS; GEOTA; Spanish ecologist Party-EQUO; “Platform Stop Uranium"; Association of Former Workers of Uranium; Association of Uranium Mining Areas.
The Conflict and the Mobilization
Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)MEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
When did the mobilization beginPREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups MobilizingLocal ejos
Local government/political parties
Social movements
Local scientists/professionals
Religious groups
Forms of MobilizationBoycotts of official procedures/non-participation in official processes
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Public campaigns
Street protest/marches
Occupation of buildings/public spaces
Environmental ImpactsPotential: Air pollution, Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Desertification/Drought, Floods (river, coastal, mudflow), Soil erosion, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Groundwater pollution or depletion, Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity
Health ImpactsPotential: Exposure to unknown or uncertain complex risks (radiation, etc…), Occupational disease and accidents, Deaths
Socio-economic ImpactsPotential: Loss of livelihood, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Violations of human rights
Project StatusStopped
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseInstitutional changes
Strengthening of participation
Project cancelled
Development of AlternativesTo find a location near to where the nuclear energy has more usage, like Catalonia or Madrid.
Do you consider this as a success?Yes
Why? Explain briefly.The project was cancelled and the nuclear waste storage site was not built.
Sources and Materials

EXPRESSO PORTUGAL. Exploração de urânio em Espanha pode afetar Portugal. 09 jun. 2013.
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AGENCIA LUSA. Bragança rejeita cemitério nuclear espanhol junto da fronteira.Diário Digital. 3 de Agosto de 2006.
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LA CRÓNICA DE SALAMANCA. Berkeley da un paso más para abrir la mina de uranio en Retortillo, 24 abr. 2014.
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REYNA, Patrick. Portuguese protest Spain's search for nuclear site near border. The Associated Press. 07 Jun. 1987.

Media Links

La Gaceta de Salamanca
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Other Documents

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Meta Information
ContributorFrancisco Fernandes, Stefania Barca and Teresa Meira
Last update25/02/2015