Belgium's green party demands review of nuclear waste storage project

Belgium's green party demands review of nuclear waste storage project
Credit Belga

Ecolo requests that the Tihange nuclear waste storage project be revised, according to a communiqué.

The public inquiry on the project will be closed Friday. It involves the construction of a building complex for the storage of spent nuclear fuel from the plant’s three reactors. 

This waste is currently stored in storage pools after having been in cooled. The storage pools are arriving at saturation, despite the planned closures of Tihange 2 in 2023, and Tihange 1 and 3 in 2025. A new temporary "dry" warehouse is therefore planned by Engie for 2023, pending a final solution in a century. 

The new warehouse should last for a period of 80 years, which worries Ecolo. For the Greens, such a perspective is absurd: the dismantling is expected to take 15 to 25 years. Environmentalists also point their finger at the quality of the armour they say is meant to last 50 years. 

Another concern, Ecolo notes that the planned storage capacity of the 120 locations is more than double the quantity of spent fuel from the 90s until 2025. Ecolo denounced a twisted nuclear exit law since Engie intends to keep a margin for possible extended nuclear production. 

Finally, the Greens stress that the warehouse is not bunkered in case of an air crash, even though it is on the Liege Airport route. 

In Le Soir, Engie-Electrabel spokesperson justified the term of 80 years because of the absence of a definitive solution for waste storage. The packaging (drums) is designed for a minimum of 50 years, by way of a monitoring programme, she said. All is controlled by the Federal Agency for Nuclear Control (FANC). 

Based on the risks identified by the National Agency for Radioactive Waste and Enriched Fissile Materials (ONDRAF), Ecolo will interrogate Ministers of Interior and Environment at the Federal Parliament and in the Region, requesting revision of the project and impact study.

The Brussels Times

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