Vandellòs-I nuclear power plant (l’Hospitalet de l’Infant, Tarragona, Spain) is going to be completely decommissioned by 2028. This project proposes a new vision in order to give a new chance to this industrial area located on the Mediterranean coast.
After 17 years of operation, the power plant shut off in 1989 due to an incident in its cooling system. The first phase of the decommissioning process (1998 – 2003) cost over 93M€ and it generated more than 15.000 tonnes of conventional waste. By demolishing the existing infrastructure, we will be increasing the waste generated and also losing an icon in the landscape.
A new protontherapy research and treatment centre is proposed after recycling all existing structures in the old power plant. Protontherapy is a medical procedure that uses a beam of protons to irradiate diseased tissue, most often in the treatment of cancer. Its chief advantage over other types of radiotherapy is that, as a charged particle, the dose is deposited over a narrow range and there is minimal exit dose. No such public centre exists in Spain because of its high cost of construction and maintenance over the years. It needs some technical characteristics similar to the existing ones in the nuclear power plants. This means that we can build this high tech centre for almost the same cost as that required to decommission the plant. For example, high-density concrete walls over 2m wide can serve as areas for bunkers and as a very good protection from radiation. This project allows us to change the perception that we popularly have about this place. Radiation is well-known to be cancer-causing; however, we present this place now with the opportunity to turn it into a centre to treat cancer instead.