Nuclear watchdog association calls for urgent inspection of Doel 3

Nuclear watchdog association calls for urgent inspection of Doel 3
Doel 3 was meant to shut down in October this year

A Brussels-based watchdog has asked Belgium's Federal Agency for Nuclear Control (FANC) to carry out an inspection at the decommissioned Doel 3 nuclear power plant by Monday at the latest.

The Association Vinçotte Nuclear (AVN) made the request in a letter sent to the FANC on Friday. It insisted that the East Flanders Public Prosecutor's Office and/or the Federal Public Prosecutor's Office should be present at the inspection.

According to the AVN, "irreversible actions for the dismantling of the plant" threaten to be taken, and that would be contrary to the current operating licence.

Founded in 1990, the AVN was responsible for the on-site inspection of the nuclear power stations in Doel and Tihange until 2008, when that role was taken over by Bel V, a subsidiary of the FANC.

On 28 September, the association instituted summary proceedings against the Belgian state, energy operator Engie Electrabel, and the FANC, to prevent irreversible measures from being taken during the dismantling of Doel 3 unless an environmental impact report is drawn up beforehand.

The AVN's lawyer insisted at the hearing that Engie should undertake not to do any work related to the decommissioning of the plant in the coming weeks, but that was refused, and the suit was postponed to 2 November "much against the AVN's wishes."

The AVN now fears that irreversible actions for the decommissioning of the plant may already be taken on Monday or Tuesday "without obtaining the necessary decommissioning permit, in violation of the operating licence, and without a prior environmental impact assessment," hence the request for the FANC to carry out an inspection at the plant by Monday.

"Since an infringement of the operating license is an act that constitutes a criminal offence, we request the public prosecutor's office to join them on the site," AVN explained.

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