Row over Belgian nuclear emergencies law

Greenpeace urges new information requirement after block on nuclear waste shipment overturned

Greenpeace is calling on the Belgian Government to strengthen the country's nuclear emergency planning law by requiring local governments to be informed of nuclear waste shipments passing through their areas. The demand follows a Belgian court's imposition of a legal block on a shipment of high-level waste on Sunday, only for the ruling to be reversed on Monday after representations by interior ministry lawyers. The transport, which was returning vitrified waste from the La Hague plant in France to long-term storage in Dessel, Belgium has now gone ahead.

The row was sparked by Greenpeace, which successfully petitioned the Dendermonde court before the shipment to rule that Belgian law requires local authorities to be informed of nuclear shipments and involved in emergency response plans. The interior ministry argues that the requirements apply only to nuclear installations, not shipments. ENDS Daily understands that a number of Belgian parliamentarians are petitioning for the situation to be clarified, and the law revised.

The shipment in question was the first of fifteen due to occur over the next few years. The waste arises from the reprocessing of spent Belgian fuel by French company Cogema. In 1998, the government cancelled the contract with Cogema so that no further Belgian fuel will be reprocessed after this year (ENDS Daily 8 December 1998).

Follow Up:
Belgian interior ministry, tel: +32 2 504 8511; Greenpeace Belgium, tel: +32 2 274 0200

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