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Dutch MPs urge closure of Belgian nuclear plants
by Staff Writers
The Hague (AFP) June 7, 2016

Dutch lawmakers on Tuesday urged the government to push for the closure of two ageing nuclear reactors in Belgium, which have also raised concerns in other neighbouring countries.

"Given that the Belgian reactors of Tihange and Doel, close to the Netherlands, have often been halted due to security problems," the parliamentarians "call on the Dutch government to join with Germany and Luxembourg and ask the Belgian government to close them", said the text of a resolution.

It was adopted by 78 votes in favour with 72 against, a spokeswoman for the lower chamber told AFP.

Earlier this year, Belgium opened up its two nuclear plants to inspections by ministers from Germany, Luxembourg and the Netherlands after a series of problems including shutdowns, leaks and cracks.

The concerns have largely emerged since Belgium decided in December to extend the lives of 40-year-old reactors Doel 1 and Doel 2 until 2025 under a deal to preserve jobs and invest in the transition to cleaner energy.

It had originally shuttered Doel 1, the country's oldest reactor, in February 2015, but just three days after it was restarted in December it had to be closed due to a generator problem. It has now restarted a second time.

Tiny cracks discovered in 2012 in the reactor pressure vessels of Doel 3 and Tihange 2 also caused lengthy closures of those two reactors. They were both restarted at the end of last year, one having to close quickly again, for a few days, after a water leak.

Germany and Luxembourg in April called for a temporary closure of Doel 3 and Tihange 2. But Belgian officials said the reactors were subjected to the "strictest safety controls" and there was no reason to shut them down.

Dutch Environment Minister Melanie Schultz van Haegen visited Doel in January and said at the time that she had "serious concerns" about the ageing reactors.

But the Dutch news agency ANP reported Tuesday she had said last month there was "no legal basis" to call for the reactor to be shut down.

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