Dutch nuclear plant Borssele approved for longer life

Friday, March 29, 2013

FRANKFURT/AMSTERDAM, March 27 (Reuters) - Dutch nuclear reactor Borssele has been given permission to operate up to 2033, though the approval can still be contested, Dutch and German stakeholders said on Wednesday.

Started in 1973, the 500 megawatt plant is one of the oldest reactors in Europe. It is 70 percent owned by Dutch generator Delta, in turn owned by Dutch provincial authorities, and 30 percent by German utility RWE.

The plant was due to shut in 2014 but the Dutch government had agreed in 2006 to extend its lifespan until 2033, while requesting additional inspections before issuing a permit, said a spokeswoman for EPZ, the operating company for the Netherlands sole nuclear plant in the southwest of the country.

The environment ministry for the German state of North-Rhine Westphalia, where RWE is headquartered, published the Dutch decision and criticised its Dutch counterparts for not insisting on environmental impact studies before the decision.

It published a link for public scrutiny, where opposing views can be registered until May 2.

The ruling is potentially significant for RWE, which secured its 50 percent stake in Borssele in 2011 after two years of Dutch resistance to RWE's claims.

The German group had inherited the stake through its acquisition of Dutch peer Essent in 2009.

The deal secured RWE a nuclear foothold in the neighbouring country just as it was losing 2,500 megawatts of nuclear power generating capacity at its Biblis plant in Germany, under a political plan to exit German nuclear power faster.

Plans for a second reactor at Borssele were shelved early last year due to uncertainties in the European energy and finance sectors and an increasing overcapacity situation in regional power markets.

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