Relief in Germany about the end of the Belgian breakdown pile
German opponents of nuclear power reacted with relief to the end of a controversial Belgian reactor near the border near Aachen. The decommissioning of reactor block two in the Tihange nuclear power plant near Liège provides “significantly more safety,” said Federal Environment Minister Steffi Lemke (Greens) on Tuesday of the online edition of the “Rheinische Post” in Düsseldorf. According to the operator Engie, the reactor should be taken off the grid by midnight after exactly 40 years.
Politicians and opponents of nuclear power in Germany and Luxembourg, among other places, had been campaigning for years to end the reactor, which is about 50 kilometers as the crow flies from the German border. Experts had already found thousands of small cracks in the reactor pressure vessel in 2012. A reactor in the Belgian nuclear power plant in Doel near Antwerp had similar problems. This was finally gone from the network at the end of September.
“Tihange 2 is one of the most dangerous nuclear facilities in the world,” said Harald Ebner (Greens), Chairman of the Bundestag Committee for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety. The kiln has been losing “radioactive water since 2005” and has already had several incidents. Because of such risks, it is “absolutely correct that Germany will finally phase out nuclear power on April 15.”
According to the Belgian news channel LN24, around 150 people protested against the shutdown near the Tihange power plant on the Meuse, southwest of Liège. “Shutting down nuclear power plants in the middle of the climate and energy crisis is a very bad idea,” said the German association Nuklearia, which supported the rally.
The leader of the Flemish separatist party N-VA and Mayor of Antwerp, Bart de Wever, also attended the rally. He criticized the “hasty” shutdown of the reactor. In the Ukraine war, nuclear power is a question of European security, he told LN24.
Originally, Belgium wanted to phase out nuclear power completely by 2025, but the Russian war of aggression in Ukraine caused energy prices to explode and fueled fears of widespread power outages. A lifetime extension to 2035 is now planned for the two youngest Belgian nuclear reactors. The government had agreed on this in principle with the operator Engie at the beginning of January.
With their original seven reactors, the Belgian nuclear power plants at the Liège and Antwerp sites covered around half of Belgium’s electricity requirements. Gas, which Belgium imports in part in the form of liquid gas, is now to close the gap on an interim basis. Later, eco-energy sources are to take their place.