Nuclear reactor safety concerns has Dutch MP's worried

One of the nuclear Petten
One of the nuclear reactors in Petten. (One of the nuclear reactors in Petten)

Reports that the nuclear reactor in Petten's safety is not up to standard has Dutch parliamentarians concerned. The PvdA, D66, GroenLinks and SP all want responsible Ministers Henk Kamp of Economic Affairs and Melanie Schultz van Haegen of Infrastructure and environment to order an investigation, NOS reports.

The reactor in Petten is used to make isotopes for cancer medication. The isotopes are used world wide for the detection and treatment of cancer.

The operator of the reactor NRG has been facing financial difficulties for some time. On Wednesday NOS published a report by a nuclear expert that showed that these financial difficulties may be putting safety at the reactor in danger. Commercial purposes are given priority, which means safety is no longer the guiding principle, according to the report.  For example, radioactive material is not disposed of safely because it is too expensive and conflicts resulted in many employees leaving the company, taking their knowledge of systems, processes and safety with them.

A spokesperson for NRG denied to the broadcaster that safety is at stake, but acknowledged the financial problems.

Parliamentarians want answers about exactly what is going on at the reactor. D66 parliamentarian Stientje van Veldhoven called the situation "very concerning". "There should be no doubts about the handling of nuclear material", she said to the broadcaster. "This must be investigated thoroughly."

PvdA parliamentarian Jan Vos wants the Nuclear Safety Authority and the responsible ministers to take immediate action. He also wanders whether nuclear plants still have a place in the future. "We know that Borssele works below cost price, and we also know that in Petten something is going on. That gives a worrying picture regarding nuclear installations in the Netherlands and Belgium. The question is whether we should follow Germany's example and just say goodbye to nuclear facilities."

GroenLinks and VVD want a parliamentary debate on the matter.

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