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    Greenpeace sues Belgium for non-fulfillment of its obligations


    The non-governmental organization Greenpeace is suing the Belgian government, it announced on Tuesday. It thinks that the State has not fulfilled obligations set out in the Espoo and Aarhus conventions. According to Greenpeace, Belgium should have done an exhaustive environmental impact study (EIS), which includes a public trans-border consultation, to be able to prolong the life of the Tihange 1 nuclear reactor by ten years. The convention on trans-border evaluation of impacts on the environment was signed in 1991 in Espoo (Finland). It “deals with the prevention, limitation and management of possible trans-border impacts on the environment”. It obliges members, which includes Belgium since 1999, to do an environmental impact study (EIS) for activities that risk having a trans-border impact on the environment. This includes nuclear plants.

    The convention on access to information, public participation in the decision process and access to courts in environmental matters, signed in Aarhus in Denmark in 1998. It was ratified by Belgium in 2003. It states that citizens concerned by activities that could have an impact on the environment must be allowed take part in an EIS via a public consultation. The population must also be informed as soon as possible so options are still open to them, and their reaction must be taken into account.

    Greenpeace thinks that prolonging the life of the Tihange 1 reactor by ten years does not respect these clauses. The government made the decision to keep it going in 2013. The populations of Limburg in the Netherlands, the north of France, Luxemburg and Nordrhein-Westfalen in Germany should have been consulted and taken part in the EIS.

    “Greenpeace is suing the government for non-respect of its obligations due to the Espoo convention”, it said in a press release. The organization will request a penalty “to force the government to organize public participation trans-border environmental impact studies”. The association concludes that it will demand Tihange 1 be shut down “if the prolonging of its life does not meet international requirements”. Members of the association will go to the federal Environment Minister Marie-Christine Marghen’s cabinet at around 2pm to inform her of its actions.

    Sarah Johanson (Source: Belga)