The political decision to extend the operations of the Doel 3 and Tihange 2 nuclear plants can no longer withstand scientific analysis, the leader of the Ecological group in parliament, Jean-Marc Nollet, noted on Wednesday morning. “In the nuclear sector, you cannot joke with safety,” he said. “By accepting the relaunch of these cracked reactors, the government is making the population run too many risks.”
Engineers from the Catholic University of Leuven who conducted a study on the plants based on technical documents from the Federal Agency for Nuclear Control (FANC), have issued many criticisms. They feel hydrogen cannot be the sole cause of the thousands of cracks detected in the reactors. Either there is another cause, or the current defects worsen with time, they say.
They also contest the methodology used by Electrabel, the energy corporation that owns and operates the nuclear plants, to analyse the interaction between the defects at the plants, saying it was not scientifically sound and that no evidence was produced showing that “the most serious case” was in fact taken into consideration.
FANC, for its part, stated in the daily Le Soir that the calculations made by the researchers were wrong. It insisted that the methodology proposed by Electrabel had been validated after careful consideration and with the support of experts.
For the ecologists, the publication of this new study should provide an opportunity to call into question a decision made hastily and without sufficient consensus on the risks involved.
“Moreover, this is not the first scientific study to question the relaunch of Doel 3 and Tihange 2,” said Nollet. “What more is needed for the Government to take the measures required to protect all Belgian citizens, but also our German and Dutch neighbours, from these inconsiderate risks? The obstinancy of Electrabel, the FANC and Ministers Jambon and Marghem is unacceptable.”
Jan Jambon’s portfolio is the Interior and Safety, while Marie-Christine Marghem’s is Energy.