Portugal protests Spain's stockpiling of nuke waste near border

The Japan Times

LISBON – Portugal has accused Spain of stockpiling nuclear waste close to its border without evaluating the environmental impact, in a complaint filed Monday with Brussels. The dispute stems from the Spanish government's decision in late December to authorize the building of a nuclear waste depot at the Almaraz plant in central-west Spain, around 100 km (60 miles) from the Portuguese border. Lisbon contends that Madrid violated a 2014 European directive requiring states to "initiate consultations" on "potential transborder repercussions" to the environment in their public projects. "The complaint was filed this afternoon," a spokesman for the Portuguese environment ministry told AFP. Referring the matter to the European Commission is "normal when there are different interpretations of community legislation," the foreign ministry said, adding it did not threaten the good relations between the two countries.


Massive lake drained for hydropower leaves dry bed and no fish

New Scientist

A large artificial lake in the Balkan state of Bosnia and Herzegovina totally vanished this month and with it an estimated 2 million fish. Following rains and snowmelt, Jablanica lake has now started to reappear, but the ecological damage might take years to repair, say environmental groups and local fishers. Water levels in the lake are usually regulated to keep enough water to generate hydroelectricity and to avoid floods in the city of Mostar, which lies downstream. So it came as a surprise to local people, especially fishers, to see the lake completely drained last week, and with it all its life gone, too. Normally, the lake is 30 kilometres long, around a kilometre wide with a depth of about 70 metres.


The Papers: Brexit fears, and short prison terms 'end'

BBC News

Prisons minister Rory Stewart tells the Daily Telegraph that "very short" jail terms are long enough to damage, but not long enough to heal. Mr Stewart admits his plan - to scrap jail sentences shorter than six months for most crimes in England and Wales - could provoke a backlash from the public and some Conservative MPs, but he insists "it's a debate I have to win". The paper says the proposal is a significant shift in thinking towards a greater emphasis on rehabilitation, noting that simply jailing offenders has caused the prison population to double to 80,000 since the 1990s. The Financial Times reports that the Japanese firm Hitachi is on the verge of abandoning a plan to build a nuclear power station on Anglesey, threatening hundreds of jobs. Sources close to the project in Wylfa tell the paper that Hitachi will announce it is pulling the plug next week because of problems with financing.



France may close a third of its nuclear reactors, environment minister says

The Japan Times

PARIS – France's new environment minister said Monday nearly a third of the country's reactors could be shut under plans to scale back the amount of electricity produced from nuclear power. In 2015, the previous Socialist-dominated parliament passed a law obliging the government to reduce the proportion of electricity generated from nuclear power from around 75 percent to 50 percent by 2025. "We can all understand that to reach this target, we're going to have to close a certain number of reactors," Environment Minister Nicolas Hulot told RTL radio. "It will be perhaps as high as 17 reactors, but we need to look into it." Hulot, a celebrity environmentalist, was named as minister for ecological transition in the first government of 39-year-old centrist President Emmanuel Macron, elected in May.