Belgium shuts down Doel nuke reactor

Brussels, Belgium (AFP) — Belgium on Friday will push through with a decades-old plan to shut down a nuclear reactor despite calls for a rethink given fears of power blackouts this winter.

Wedged between nuclear -powered France and gas-and-coal-dependent Germany, Belgium relies on about half of its electricity needs from an ageing stable of seven nuclear reactors that are operated by Engie, a French company.

The closure of one of the four reactors at the Doel plant near the port of Antwerp is the first step in Belgium’s decision in 2003 to exit nuclear power completely by 2025, an end date that was delayed by a decade for two reactors earlier this year.

In February, another reactor is set for mothballing at Tihange, just 50 kilometers (30 miles) from the border with Germany, where activists and officials have lobbied for decades against Belgium’s use of nuclear energy at their doorstep.

Both reactors made headlines in 2012 when cracks were found in their reactor units, leaving them out of service for years.

A political crisis erupted this month when Interior Minister Annelies Verlinden raised the question of postponing the shutdown, enraging the Green party.

Greens exit nuke tech

The Greens had made an exit from nuclear power a condition of joining a politically fragile seven-party coalition that was painfully cobbled together in 2020, more than a year after inconclusive elections.

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