LEMÓNIZ - The Ghost Nuclear Power Plant

In Lemóniz, in the North of Spain, 15 km. faraway from Bilbao, the biggest city of Basque Country, on 1972, started the construction of one Nuclear Power Plant which never worked. Why? in this article you will find the answers of one of the most important facts of the nuclear energetic history.

At the beginning of the seventies, the works to build a Nuclear Power Plant in a little coastal village of the Basque Country started without some much permissions. This Nuclear Power Plant was part of a project of 41 Plants, which Franco ́s Dictatorship wanted to build in Spain. For the Basque Country, the Energetic National Plan, name that Franco gave to the Project, it was planned a group of 4 Nuclear Power Plants; Lemóniz, Deba, Tudela y EA, different little villages on the Basque Country. But, why did the Franco ́s Dictatorship want to build so much Nuclear Plants? Well, the main reason was the Petrol Crisis on the seventies and the strong energy dependence, that Spain nowadays even still has. But also, other reason was that this kind of energy was on fashion in this time and the society didn ́t know some much about the dangers and risks.

To build the Nuclear Plant were used 1.000 tons of iron and more than 200.000 cubic meters of concrete. It had 2 reactors with 930 megawatts each. it was a light water Plant with American Design and Westinghouse Patent.

Quickly, the society started to move with different demonstration and protests,even in 1976 was founded The Basque Commission for a not Nuclear Coast. And 1977 in Bilbao there was a big protest with more than 150.000 people.There was, also, a lot protests in different villages and around the Nuclear Plant while it was building. In this demonstration there were some much confrontation
with La Guardia Civil (The Spanish Police). Also in 1977, there was the first assault of the Terrorist Organization, ETA, against the Nuclear Plant in the installations. In this attack one member of ETA died.

In 1978 the Democracy arrived to the Spanish Socieatym and of course to the Basque Country. The different political parties had more or less the same position about the Nuclear Plant of Lemóniz. The society needed to dialogue and find good and democratic solution. But the energetic instances said that if the Nuclear Plant doen ́t work there will be a energetic crisis in Spain.

In 1978 again, ETA attack the construction of the Plant of Lemóniz. In this time, the terrorist organization put one bomb in the installations of the Plant, the result; 2 workers died.

The protests still following and even are stronger. In June of 1979 there was a really big demonstration in Tudela Village with a lot of people but also with a lot of policemen. There were strong incidents and one innocent girl died cause of the shots of La Guardia Civil. It was one of the most tragic incident, which made that the fury of the next protests were even stronger. There was so much
indignation about this.

ETA, in 1979 made another attack against the Nuclear Plant. They put one bomb in one of the turbines that killed one worker of the Plant. Is in this moment when the workers started to be really scared and for this reason the construction of the Plant became like a jail with so much policemen in the Plant and around it.

1981 is a decisive year for the Nuclear Power Plant of Lemóniz, there were a lot of rumors of the uranium arrival and the start up of the Plant. The protests were more intensive and also the attacks of ETA. The currency Kings of Spain in that moment visited Basque Country and the same day, ETA kidnapped the engineer boss of the construction of the Nuclear Plant. The terrorist organization wanted the demolition of the Nuclear Plant in one week, if not they would kill the engineer. Finally, after one week, ETA killed the engineer. There was so much condemn from the Basque Society. But the situation was even worse cause of the died of one member of ETA in one Police Station who had so much tortures. And, on the other hand, the 23 of February there was Coup Attempt from La Guardia Civil in Madrid. There were a really difficult times in Spain. This month, IBERDUERO (Nowadays IBERDROLA) the responsible energetic company of Lemóniz decided to stop the project cause the strong attacks of ETA. The situation was so difficult for the company and we can say that, they accepted the blackmail of ETA. There was a lot of uncertainly with the workers of IBERDUERO, cause if the project stop, they will not have job, but anyway, the workers were really scared cause of ETA and they wanted to work in other places, not in Lemóniz.

Again, in 1982 ETA killed the boss engineer of the Plant, he was the last victim of the tragic story of Lemóniz. This year, the Socialist Party won the Spanish General Elections. This government put the nuclear moratorium and after one year in 1983 the construction finally stopped. But it was in 1994 when finally IBERDROLA decided to cancel definitely the Project of Lemóniz specially cause the pressure of ETA and the society. But so much people said and say that it was a really big political mistake didn ́t make a referendum and "gave the victory to ETA". So, we can say that, Lemóniz never worked mainly and unfortunately cause of the intervention of ETA.

Anyway, this project was frustrated from the beginning cause different reasons:
 It was part of stupid Energetic Plan from the Franco ́s Dictatorship.
 The Plant didn ́t have the whole permissions to be build.
 The Project didn ́t have enough qualified staff.

There are different alternative project to make useful the installations like some kind of energetic museum and even there was a project to become the installations in a Gas Plant.

But, nowadays, the Nuclear Plant of Lemóniz is still there like abandoned monument, like a ghost.