Gas power stations 'absurd': Legal action against nuclear reactor closure

Gas power stations 'absurd': Legal action against nuclear reactor closure
Credit: Belga.

Several Belgian citizens' movements will take the Belgian state, as well as Engie-Electrabel and Elia, to court over the shutdown of the Doel 3 and Tihange 2 nuclear power plants, RTBF reports.

Efforts are being led by 100 TWh, a pro-nuclear Belgian citizens group that has launched an appeal to override the 2003 Deleuze law which started Belgium’s progress towards denuclearisation.

The group argues that energy supply cannot be guaranteed in Belgium without the inclusion of nuclear power. They oppose the permanent closure of the reactors, instead calling for them to be “mothballed”, allowing them to be brought online when Belgium needs them.

“We have made various calculations of power and energy needed. In all scenarios, we need nuclear power plants. We have used Elia’s figures but disagree with their proposals to replace nuclear energy with massive imports from abroad and new gas power stations,” said Henri Marenne, spokesperson for the group.

Anything but gas

In the context of sky-high energy prices, gas is fast becoming economically unfeasible as a fuel source. Groups in favour of nuclear also criticise the EU decision to label natural gas a “transitional fuel” when it has a vastly greater impact on the environment than nuclear.

“Building gas power stations in the current context is absurd. Our European neighbours, France and Germany, are reducing their capacity and favouring their national supply." The group cited blackouts in Germany that follow the closure of the country's last nuclear reactors.

100TWh argues that Belgium should follow Japan's example, where the Fukushima nuclear power was mothballed after it was damaged by a tsunami in 2011: “They are even thinking of building new reactors in Japan. We should also consider this. 100% renewable is a myth – it needs a reliable backup."

Public inquiry

Another non-profit association, Vinçotte Nuclear (AVN), is taking urgent action on 28 September to condemn the plans to dismantle nuclear power stations and demand compensation. Furthermore, the group seeks to block the dismantling of Doel 3 until a public inquiry and environmental impact report have been published, as per European law.

The association is composed of former employees from Belgium’s Federal Agency for Nuclear Control who are dismayed by the haste of dismantling operations at Doel 3. The group does not believe that the legal conditions have been met for the plant to be permanently decommissioned.

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According to the group’s lawyer, dismantlement could pose a threat to the surrounding population and require a public inquiry.

“This public inquiry should concern local residents at a perimeter of 1,000 kilometres around the Doel power plant. We believe that dismantling must be stopped until a public inquiry and environmental study have been carried out."

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