Ghent wants checks at Dutch reactor

Monday, October 1, 2012

The Dutch authorities have turned down a request by the City of Ghent (East Flanders) to shut down the nuclear power station at Borssele (Zeeland).

The Borssele Plant is on the southern coast of the Zuid-Beverland peninsular and as such is only around 40km as the crow flies from the East Flemish city. The city authorities in Ghent had wanted the Dutch to close the reactor at Borssele to allow safety checks to be carried out.

The reactor at the Dutch plant was built using the same method as at Doel 3 (East Flanders) and Tihange (Liège province).

Cracks were discovered in the reactor tanks at Doel and Tihange during routine safety checks last month.

However; the Dutch Economy Ministry says that there is no reason to act on the City of Ghent’s request.

Ghent wants precautionary checks at Borssele

The city authorities in Ghent stand by their request for precautionary checks to be carried out.

The City Alderman responsible for the Environment Tom Balthazar (socialist) told the VRT that “I assume that in a civilised country like the Netherlands, they will do what needs to be done.”

The Greens tabled a motion calling for the closure of the reactor to allow safety checks to be made.

All the parties represented on Ghent City Council voted for the motion with the exception of the far-right Vlaams Belang (voted against) and the former Vlaams Belang councillors from the Belfort Goup that abstained.

The green councillor Tine Heyse told the VRT that “The Rotterdamsche Droogdok Maatschappij (RDM) supplied the reactors for Doel 3, Tihange 2 and the nuclear power station at Borssele in Zeeland". Ms Heyse also points to the proximity of Borssele with relation to Ghent.

As small cracks have been discovered in the reactor tanks at Doel 3 and Tihange 2, Ghent City Council has asked for thorough checks to be carried out at Borssele, something that has not been done since the early 1970’s.

However, the Dutch Economy Minister Maxime Verhagen (Christian democrat, photo) and the management at the Borssele plant says that the reactor tank comes from a different manufacturer and is made up of different parts than the Belgian reactors.

This is contradicted by the former Technical Director at RDM Wouter Den Dulk. "The reactor tank was supplied by Siemens, but RDM built it. The whole thing is comparable to Doel 2 and Tihange 3."

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