Germany regrets lifetime extension of Belgian nuclear reactors

German Environment Minister Steffi Lemke (green party) has criticised the Belgian federal government’s decision to keep its two youngest nuclear reactors open ten years longer. For Germany, nuclear energy remains a thing of the past, she told the DPA news agency on Saturday.

The Belgian federal government decided on Friday to keep two reactors, Doel 4 in Flanders and Tihange 3 in Wallonia, open ten years longer than planned. The plan up until now had been to decommission them in 2025, along with all other nuclear reactors in the country. The extension is meant to supplement a subsidy mechanism for replacement capacity in the form of, among other things, new gas power plants. This combination should ensure that the energy supply is guaranteed “in all scenarios”, Prime Minister Alexander De Croo said. In the past few weeks, the government had been under additional pressure to ensure energy stability due to the Russian invasion in Ukraine and spiking energy prices that followed.

German environment minister Lemke said on Saturday he expects Belgium to quickly start a cross-border environmental impact assessment. The concerns of the population in and around the German city of Aachen – some 80 kilometres from Tihange – must be taken seriously, she warned.

Germany itself will not be going back on its nuclear exit, which was decided after the nuclear disaster of Fukushima, Japan, in 2011. Rising energy prices and the war in Ukraine in recent weeks have also forced the government in Berlin to weigh up the arguments for and against nuclear power, but the result was clear, Lemke says. “A small contribution to the energy supply would entail major economic, legal and security risks. That would be neither wise nor justifiable.”

"I do not find a life extension on grounds of security of supply defensible. It could even make us more vulnerable”

“Especially in times of crisis like these, I do not find a life extension on grounds of security of supply defensible. It could even make us more vulnerable”, Lemke said. She said the global concern over the safety of nuclear power plants in Ukraine dramatically demonstrated the potential damage they can cause. “We are in a situation where we need to crisis-proof our energy supply very quickly. We need to do that by increasing our reliance on renewable energy.”




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