Contingency plans in case of a major nuclear accident are not up to scratch and our country is therefore ill prepared for such a catastrophe, according to research sponsored by Greenpeace Belgium. The NGO “demands” that the government reassess what to do in worst case scenarios but, according to Greenpeace and based on the research in question, nothing has been learned from the Fukushima disaster in Japan. Emergency preparations are very limited and “would not suffice to protect Belgians if there was serious nuclear accident.”
The study was undertaken by ACRO (French association for measuring radioactivity in the West). Their president David Boilley will give a presentation at the Chamber on Wednesday.
“Zones covered by current contingency plans are too limited and must be enlarged to cover the whole country. There is no mention of the evacuation of cities such as Antwerp, Liege or Namur, in spite of their location being less than 30kms from a nuclear power station,” regrets Greenpeace, which also highlights power stations in Gravelines, Chooz, Cattehom, and Borssele, all along the Belgian border.
For the NGO, the Fukushima disaster showed that contingency plans only work to protect populations if they have been devised with a worst case scenario in mind. Everyone concerned – from emergency services to potential victims – must be trained in what to do in advance of an actual incident.
“This is not the case in Belgium, where the case of only a limited nuclear incident with low radioactive contamination levels has been envisaged,” explains Eloi Glorieux, in charge of the Energy campaign for Greenpeace.
In view of population density in this country, and of the problems occurring at Belgian nuclear plants in recent months, the NGO suggests not extending their expected life cycles and closing down reactors when micro-cracks appear in their tanks.
“Will the Belgian government act responsibly to protect Belgian citizens? For now, it seems willing to run the risk and is ignoring any lessons that were learned from Fukushima and Tchernobyl. We call this culpable negligence,” adds Greenpeace.