“It has been clear to us for some time that Doel 3 cannot be extended, because the question has already been asked in the government this summer. The answer then was no.” Deputy Prime Minister Gruen Petra de Sutter (Green) Made in the seventh day Clear That CD&V Secretary Annelies Verlinden “did not act on behalf of the government” when she sent a letter to the nuclear watchdog agency FANC last week asking if planned preparations to shut down the Doel 3, which will end on Friday, could not be canceled after all.
Verlinden clarified that FANC made no substantive objections to such a shift in its answer. But that turned out to be a very rosy reading of the facts. According to FANC Director Frank Hardman, it is impossible to guarantee that there are no nuclear safety risks if plans are changed.
“She probably got in touch too quickly, and then she got called up again,” de Sutter said on national television. For example, Deputy Prime Minister Green spoke of Prime Minister Alexander de Croo’s (Open Vld) reprimand he delivered to Verlinden on Friday to the core. According to the prime minister, Ferlinden’s approach made the government look like a group of amateurs. Not perfect, just as he and Energy Minister Tinne Van der Straeten (Green) are negotiating with producer Engie about extending Doel 4 and Tihange 3.
If Verlinden could hide behind the news about the government’s energy support package on Friday, she had a full blast this weekend. “The political show just exploded in her face,” said the Greens. Some socialists and liberals also gloated about its predicament. Many specialists believe that the eventual closure of Doel 3 is simply a fait accompli.
However, Verlinden also receives support within the government. According to MR President George Luis Bochese, the CD&V Secretary is right to discuss extending additional nuclear power plants. The same voice can be heard from CD&V Chairman Sami Mahdi. “Annelies simply asked if the irreversible work of Doel 3 could be safely postponed. This at least gives us room for a rational discussion about the future of our nuclear power plants.”
CD&V and MR were angered for some time by the protracted negotiations with Engie. They fear that the Greens are trying to extend the time to make a nuclear exit inevitable. So the message to FANC is seen as leftover to get a number of things moving. “If the government does not quickly consider how to secure the energy supply, we risk hitting an iceberg,” Mehdi said. “Anneliese is trying to avoid it.”
Verlinden himself asserts that “we can’t afford not to put all the puzzle pieces on the table.” Even Tihange 2, which will close in March 2023, should be allowed to speak, according to the Christian Democrats.
Consequently, the tensions over the highly inflammable file of the nuclear exit escalate further.
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