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Spanish government to dismantle controversial gas plant

Castor project which caused earthquakes in 2013 was "disastrous," says minister

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29 January 2019 02:37 PM

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ACN | Alcanar

The Spanish government will dismantle the controversial failed Castor gas storage plant. This is according to Spain's ecologic transition minister, Teresa Ribera.

The plant has never again been in operation since it provisionally closed down in 2013, after the facility was blamed for causing hundreds of earthquakes measuring up to 4.1 on the Richter scale, with tremors going on for weeks.

Ribera said on Tuesday that the project was "disastrous" and added that there is reason for lengthening the temporary stand by.

For her, the Castor project will not be necessary for the gas system "neither in the short, mid or long term."

The risk of more earthquakes in case the project is back in operation would not be gone either.

Long-standing controversy

The Castor project off the coast of Vinaròs, a Valencian town near the Catalan border, goes back to 2008 but it never went into full operation and was shut down in 2013 after the storage facility was blamed for causing hundreds of earthquakes.

This led to protests and even the European Parliament passed a motion asking for compensations for the inhabitants of the area.

Compensation for builder

Yet the controversy over the building of the plant did not end there. A clause in the contract to build the facility promised compensation to its builder, Escal UGS company – Real Madrid football team chairman's ACS parent company – should the project fail.

The Castor plant was partially financed with 1.4 billion euros of EU bonds.

The Spanish authorities authorized a loan of 1.35 billion euros to compensate Escal UGS. This led more protests followed as it became clear that loan was to be paid off by gas customers over a period of 30 years, but Spain's Constitutional Court struck down the decision.

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  • The Castor offshore platform, in front of Vinaró's coast, near Catalonia's Ebre Delta (by ACN)

  • The Castor offshore platform, in front of Vinaró's coast, near Catalonia's Ebre Delta (by ACN)

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