‘Diplomatic incident': Luxembourg critical of Belgium's nuclear plans

‘Diplomatic incident': Luxembourg critical of Belgium's nuclear plans
© EU Commission

Federal minister for energy and the environment Marie-Christine Marghem (MR) has accused her Luxembourg counterpart of “a campaign of disinformation” regarding Belgium’s decision to dispose of nuclear waste.

Yesterday, Luxembourg environment minister Carole Dieschbourg accused Belgium of “contrariness” and “a lack of transparency” over the choice of sites for the disposal of waste from the generation of nuclear energy.

Belgium, she said, had selected seven sites, all within Belgian territory, but close enough to the frontier as to pose a risk to the Grand Duchy.

Last month Ondraf, the national agency for the management of radioactive waste, produced its recommendations, which involve burying the waste underground in metal containers. However the details of the location of the sites were not revealed.

This week, however, Dieschbourg claimed the choice was down to seven sites, situated in the area of Namur, Dinant and Stavelot. “That is right on our doorstep,” she commented.

The government’s plans, she claimed, are in breach of the Espoo Convention, which regulates environmental impact reporting in trans-frontier cases.

The cross-border risks have not yet been clarified,” she said. “It would therefore be irresponsible and unacceptable to decide on such projects, without knowing what long-term effects they will have on groundwater, for example, and thus on the health of our citizens.”

Now, Marghem has accused Dieschbourg of creating “a serious diplomatic incident” by talking to the media with serious allegations, without ever having been in contact with the Belgian ministers concerned.

At this stage, no storage site has been identified or even the type of rock capable of receiving the waste, contrary to what was stated during the press conference,” she said.

Distributing a map with these supposed sites to the Luxembourg population or talking about possible water pollution is nothing less than a harmful disinformation campaign.”

Furthermore, she said, the public consultation launched by Ondraf respects Belgian and European legislation in all respects, as well as all international treaties.

The numerous inconsistencies I have heard would have us believe that implementation of Belgian radioactive waste management policy will take place quickly, whereas this is a first step in a procedure which involves several stages, each of them involving public consultations.”

Alan Hope

The Brussels Times

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