Dutch nuclear plant closure plan censured

Council of State criticises government over failure to address concerns of Borssele employees

The Dutch government's intention to close the country's last operating nuclear power station were upset yesterday when the highest administrative court criticised the decision. The Council of State ruled that the government had not properly considered objections to closing the Borssele station at then end of 2003 raised by an association of the plant's employees.

The Dutch parliament voted in 1994 to phase out nuclear energy in the Netherlands largely due to misgivings about nuclear waste management. Dodewaard, the country's only other nuclear station, closed in early 1997. Later that year, the government decided to end Borssele's operating licence at the end of 2003, but the plant's personnel, organised in Stichting Borssele 2004+, opposed the move and took their case to the Council of State.

Borssele accounts for about 5% of Dutch electricity production and for some time the cabinet kept the option open for re-examining its closure decision in case the Netherlands needed nuclear energy to meet its Kyoto protocol greenhouse gas reduction commitment. But last year it decided that, even though Borssele would help meet the target, the drawback of nuclear waste, was bigger than the benefits.

Borssele's operator, EPZ responded to the court decision by pledging to take measures to continue operating beyond 2003. However, an economics ministry told ENDS Daily that a renewed government move to shut the plant as planned was expected.

Follow Up:
Dutch Council of State, tel: +31 70 426 4426; Dutch economics ministry, tel: +31 70 426 4426; EPZ, tel: +31 113 356 000; Stichting Borssele 2004+.

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