Berlusconi Says Nuclear Energy “Probably” Out in Italy

Posted June 13th, 2011 at 10:10 am (UTC-5)
Leave a comment

Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi says Italy will “probably” have to give up plans to return to nuclear power as the country holds a referendum on the issue.

Italians are in the final stretch of two days of voting on a referendum that seeks to block the revival of nuclear energy.

Berlusconi's government had opposed the referendum and urged its supporters to stay away from the vote to rob the motion of the 50-percent quorum needed to pass.

However, Italy's Interior Ministry said Monday projections show turnout in the vote will be above the 50 percent needed to validate the measure.

Mr. Berlusconi said Monday that Italy must “probably say goodbye to the possibility of nuclear power stations” and must strongly commit itself to renewable energy.

Italians also are voting on three other referendums, including one on a law exempting government ministers from attending trials against them. The two other referendums involve plans to privatize Italy's water utilities.

Mr. Berlusconi's government proposed last year to restart nuclear power plants, but then put the plan on hold following the nuclear disaster at Japan's Fukushima plant in March. Italy's nuclear plants were shut down in 1987 after a similar referendum.

The prime minister's government is already reeling from heavy losses in local elections last month. The Italian leader is also a defendant in several ongoing trials for fraud as well as for allegedly having sex with a 17-year old prostitute.