The Spanish government has levied a record E1.6 million fine on the Vandellos II nuclear station, operated jointly by Endesa and Iberdrola.

The government took the decision to impose a fine after the operators failed to implement changes recommended by the country’s nuclear safety agency. The amount charged against Iberdrola and Endesa is more than five times larger than the previous highest fine, which was also levied against the Vandellos II plant in 1997.

The details of the fine center on problems with the plant’s cooling system; the government says that the station management tried to hide information on a corroded cooling pipe from the nuclear safety body, and had failed to maintain the cooling system properly prior to the problem being discovered.

At 1,087MW, Vandellos II is Spain’s largest nuclear station by installed capacity. Endesa may yet have to divest its interest in the plant if E.ON succeeds in acquiring the utility, according to antitrust conditions recently outlined by the energy regulator.