Chamber of Representatives agrees to grant urgent procedure status to nuclear phase-out law

On Thursday, the Chamber of Representatives plenary session approved the urgent procedure for the bill to extend the life of the Doel 4 and Tihange 3 nuclear reactors. According to the bill proposed by Energy minister Tinne Van der Straeten, the plants can continue to operate until 31 December 2037.

The delay in presenting the bill to the energy committee is down to disagreements within the government. Open VLD, CD&V, MR and N-VA submitted their proposals, as did the Flemish nationalist opposition party Vlaams Belang.

Nevertheless, Van der Straeten's proposal was submitted to the Chamber, where it was given urgent procedure status on Thursday. The energy committee can discuss it as early as 12 March. The text must still be voted on in plenary before Parliament is dissolved at the end of April.

The bill allows the Doel 4 and Tihange 3 nuclear plants to continue operating until 31 December 2037. The nuclear phase-out plan remains intact, but the end dates for the latest nuclear plants have been adjusted.

There is also mention of Small Modular Reactors (SMRs), smaller plants that could potentially be built in the future and for which the government is funding research.

Electricity generating units

"As part of the government's drive to achieve full carbon neutrality in electricity generation by 2050, it may be appropriate to include small modular reactors as electricity generating units in the generation fleet," the bill says.

If SMRs meet the conditions regarding safety, long-lived waste, non-proliferation, flexibility, economic feasibility, insurability, sustainable development and implementation period, "this law can be amended so that these plants can be used for industrial electricity production".

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