Concerned about the state of insecurity in which the inhabitants of Belgium are placed as much by the catastrophic state of our nuclear power plants as by the lack of vision of the current government, as well as the previous ones, on the energy question, the ASBL End of nuclear power asked 4 questions on this topic to the political parties present at the federal level.
In what follows, we present a synthetic analysis of the parties’ responses to these questions. Let us emphasize from the outset that all the parties played the « democratic game » by agreeing to answer us, with the notable exception of the CD&V, despite the reminder that was given to it. This party probably has nothing to say about the energy issue, just like Vlaams Belang and the People’s Party, which we prefer to ignore.
- ABOUT THE 2 CRACKED REACTORS
Thousands of cracks have been discovered in the tanks of the T2 reactors (Tihange 2) and D3 (Doel 3) in 2012, following which these reactors were shut down for nearly 3 years — the cumulative duration of two separate episodes -, the time for Engie-Electrabel and the AFCN (Federal Agency for Nuclear Control) to develop a justification for their restart.
However, it is clear that these cracks, « atypical indications » as the director of the AFCN dared to call them, violate the fundamental nuclear engineering principle of « failure exclusion » — a principle that is also enshrined in Belgian law — as confirmed, if need be, by international experts and the NRC, the US nuclear control agency.
Faced with this evidence, 5 parties simply avoid the question: cdH, DéFI, Ecolo, MR and PS. Two others, Groen and sp.a, respond but then put off, postponing until the future an improbable decision finally adapted to the situation. The N‑VA and the Open Vld take refuge behind the so-called competence and independence of the AFCN, thus refusing to assume their political role and to protect the citizens against the negligence of Engie-Electrabel and the AFCN. The PTB is an exception, being the only party to want the immediate shutdown of these 2 reactors.
- ABOUT THE 3 OBSOLETE REACTORS OVER 40 YEARS OLD
With almost 45 years of operation, the three reactors Tihange 1 (T1), Doel 1 (D1) and Doel 2 (D2) have far exceeded the 30 years initially planned. These reactors have become worn and fragile over time, and the number of untimely shutdowns has been constantly increasing for several years, which shows the growing risk to which they expose Belgium: the older the reactor, the more dangerous it is. The threat of a major accident related to these 3 reactors is becoming clearer, in line with statements made by Pierre-Franck Chevet, president of the French Nuclear Safety Authority, in Le Monde on April 22, 2016: « A major nuclear accident cannot be excluded anywhere. »
The question of the immediate shutdown of these 3 obsolete reactors elicits answers quite similar to question n° 1: evasion, unlikely postponement into the future and refusal to assume political responsibility, with the exception of the PTB which is in favour of the immediate shutdown of these 3 reactors.
- ENERGY SOBRIETY
In order to free ourselves from non-renewable energies, the question highlights the need to review our relationship with energy. The use of renewable resources must be accompanied by a search for efficiency, but above all by a control of demand, which implies a redefinition of energy needs on the basis of a reflection without concessions on what is really necessary.
No party has, in our opinion, answered the question with sufficient precision and relevance.
The confusion between energy sobriety and energy efficiency is general, as is the refusal to take into account the energy impact of new technologies and the ignorance of the rebound effect.
All are in favor of energy efficiency, but some are content with a slogan-like response without content. These are DéFI, NV‑A, Open VLD.
Others, such as the MR and, with some nuances, the CDH, believe above all in technology to achieve efficiency, without any change in the current trajectory.
The sp.a and the PTB, with some voluntarist accents, remain very classical, and do not envisage anything in terms of reflection on the needs. They avoid the question of the limits of technological innovation.
The PS, where we feel a slight inflexion, especially on the concreting of land, is positioned in the same way.
Groen answers positively but remains vague on the concept of sobriety; he evades the technological question.
Finally, Ecolo confuses sobriety with efficiency. It puts forward interesting proposals, notably on production cooperatives, but ignores the question of the limits of needs and sidesteps the question of energy-intensive technological progress.
- NUCLEAR WEAPONS BAN TREATY (TIAN)
Question 4 has two parts, logically inseparable. Three parties responded specifically and positively about their attitude towards TIAN. They speak in favor of the signature and ratification by Belgium and refuse to welcome the new B61-12 bombs. These are the sp.a, Groen and PTB.
Just as clearly, the NV‑A, the Open Vld and the MR oppose the signature and ratification and accept the hosting of the B61-12 bombs.
The HRC, arguing that it is « unreasonable » and « inappropriate » for Belgium to take a unilateral decision, also opposes the signing and ratification of the TIAN. He advocates a consultation with the other European countries hosting US nuclear bombs to decide on the attitude to adopt.
DéFI declares itself in favor of the ratification of the TIAN but pleads for multilateralism!
The SP declares that it wishes to sign the NWS and to eliminate nuclear weapons from our territory, but does not show great voluntarism in this direction.
Ecolo is committed to the Treaty but does not formally commit itself to the refusal of the hosting of B61-12 bombs.
First of all, we would like to thank the political parties that responded to our questions.
The table opposite shows that almost all the parties do not obtain the average score (3), which, in our opinion, reflects the fact that the political parties are not able to produce responses that are equal to the issues at stake at the moment, be it on the issue of energy, climate or others.
Contact (French) :
- Francis Leboutte, 04 388 39 19
- Paul Lannoye, 081 44 53 64
Contact (Dutch) :
- Laura Verhaegh, 0492 83 08 24
Press release, April 24, 2019
Analysis of the political parties’ answers to the questions
about Belgium’s energy future
Questionnaire and answers, see www.findunucleaire.be/26052019.htm
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