Sudden nuclear plant shutdown raises Dutch concerns

Centrale_nucléaire_de_Doel
The Doel Nuclear Power Station in Beveren, Belgium. Across the Schelde River is a BASF facility that leads to the Dutch border. January 23, 2012 (photo: Alexandre Jacquemin / Wikimedia). The Doel Nuclear Power Station in Beveren, Belgium. Across the Schelde River is a BASF facility that leads to the Dutch border. January 23, 2012 (photo: Alexandre Jacquemin / Wikimedia)

A number of parliamentary factions want the Netherlands to have control of the nuclear power plant in Doel, just over the Belgium border, after the reactor Doel 1 shut down automatically on Saturday for an as yet unknown reason - only days after it was put back into use on December 30th.

"The plants are so old that when something goes wrong, there won't only be problems on the Belgian border", D66 parliamentarian Stientje van Veldhoven said to Dutch newspaper AD. "If the stakes are so big, it is only logical that the Netherlands are also involved in deciding whether the plants are open or closed.". GroenLinks has been calling for more involvement for some time. The SP wants the plants to close.

Not all parties in the Netherlands think closing the plants are necessary. "We just enforced that Doel will also be controlled by Dutch inspectors from this year", PvdA parliamentarian Jan Vos said. "But if it appears that they are not safe, it is a different story."

CDA parliamentarian Agnes Mulder wants Environment Minister Melanie Schultz van Haegen to quickly make arrangements with the Belgians so that residents of Zeeland and Noord-Brabant are immediately informed about the safety situation after incidents like this one. A spokesperson for the nuclear power plant told ANP that there is no danger to people or the environment after Saturday's shutdown.

In the worst case scenario, a nuclear disaster in Doel will make life impossible in Zeeland and Noord-Brabant for some time. This is naturally a concern for the local mayors and residents. "It worries me, and the people of my municipality too",  Reimerswaal mayor Jan Huisman said to the newspaper. "What should be done? The Belgians need the plant's electricity, so it can not be put out of service just like that. That's the problem. I think the international monitoring of the plants is strict enough. Yet things go wrong time and again. I do not find it reassuring, let me put it like that."

The nuclear reactors Doel 1 and Doel 2, located within 2 kilometers of the Dutch border, were built in 1975. They were set to close last year, after 40 years of service, but the Belgian government decided to extend operation until 2025.

 

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