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ROME, Italy – Italy will not return to nuclear power any time soon, as Italian voters Monday rejected a referendum proposal by the government of Silvio Berlusconi to restart the country’s moribund nuclear energy program.
The year after the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster, Italy decided to decommission its four nuclear power plants, and the last one was shuttered in 1990.
Berlusconi reversed this decision in 2008. Former Industry Minister Claudio Scajola had proposed building as many as 10 new nuclear reactors.
But in view of Japan’s nuclear disaster triggered by the March earthquake and tsunami, Berlusconi announced a one-year moratorium on plans for new reactors. But with the referendum he expressed his intention to rekindle Italy’s nuclear energy program.
The Berlusconi government had planned to get 25 percent of Italy’s energy mix from nuclear power by 2020. Italian voters have now blocked that plan.
Italy, heavily dependent on imports for its energy needs, now receives about 10 percent of its energy by importing power generated by nuclear power plants in France.