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. Belgian firm appeals nuclear tax: report

by Staff Writers
Brussels (AFP) March 28, 2009
Belgian energy firm Electrabel launched a court challenge against a bid to levy hundreds of millions of euros (dollars) in windfall tax on nuclear power companies, a report said on Saturday.

"The appeal was launched this week" in a Belgian constitutional court by Electrabel, a subsidiary of the French energy giant GDF Suez, the Belgian firm's spokesman Fernand Grifnee was quoted as saying by the newspaper l'Echo.

GDF Suez's chief executive Gerard Mestrallet has described the windfall tax, worth 250 million euros (332 million dollars), as "discriminatory and disproportionate," according to the newspaper.

The Belgian parliament passed the tax law in December. Energy Minister Paul Magnette had called for it on the grounds that investments in nuclear power stations have been recovered faster than expected, boosting company profits.

Magnette insisted on Saturday that the tax was "not discriminatory," speaking on the VRT television channel. His spokeswoman added that it was aimed at "all electricity producers."

Environmental group Greenpeace meanwhile said the tax was too small. Greenpeace spokesman Jan Vande Putte was quoted by the Belga news agency as saying that it should be raised to a billion euros per year.

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IAEA fails to agree on new chief
Vienna (AFP) March 27, 2009
The UN atomic watchdog reopened the race for its new director general on Friday after neither of the two previous candidates won sufficient votes for victory.

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