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Belgium’s neighbours anxious about the country’s nuclear revival

The revival of Belgium’s nuclear energy production has dominated headlines in recent weeks, as Electrabel, the country’s main energy provider, re-started two of its dormant reactors on the 6th of January.

Located in Doel and Tihange, the plants are in close proximity to the border with the Netherlands, Germany, Luxembourg and France, all of whom have expressed grave concern over the poor state of the reactors.

They are worried for good reason: numerous incidents in recent years, including thousands of micro-cracks being found in the plants’ pressure vessels, had caused two of the country’s seven nuclear reactors to be shutdown.

With all of these now re-connected to the power grid, Jan Jambon, Belgium’s Interior Minister, has had to answer his neighbours’ questions. On Monday he met with Barbara Hendricks, Germany’s Federal Minister for the Environment, who came to express unease about the safety of the nuclear power plants. Just days before, he had already met with the Netherlands’ Environment Minister, and Luxembourg’s Secretary of State for Sustainable Development and Infrastructure, who had similar fears.

Despite more and more countries phasing out dangerous nuclear energy, and turning instead to renewables. It is clear that Belgium prefers to keep these old and hazardous plants running, to the benefit of Electrabel and at the expense of the taxpayer. The risk however, is not limited to a sheer monetary risk. Numerous energy experts are warning that people’s lives are in danger.

A petition on the activism website Avaaz.org has urged European citizens to call for the shutdown of the Doel and Tihange reactors. More than 865,000 people have already signed the petition by the time of this article’s publication on Thursday the 4th of February: bit.ly/1PMw6ps

Our member parties across Europe have also responded to the call, and are collaborating to combat this decision. They have strongly condemned the decision to relaunch the plants and have openly supported the Avaaz petition. These include Ecolo (Belgium), Groen (Belgium), GroenLinks (Holland), Die Grünen/Bündnis 90 (Germany), Europe Écologie des Verts (France), etc.

In Luxembourg Déi Gréng has vigorously fought against the decision, as part of government, by ramping up the pressure on the Belgian government to close the plants.

Ecolo, GroenLinks and Die Grünen/Bündnis 90 also joined forces by organising a common press conference on the 22nd of January in Aachen, Germany, against the relaunch of the plants.

In a collaborative statement launched by the aforementioned parties, they made a clear point of the fact that these plants should be closed.

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