Belgian court allows Doel 3 nuclear reactor decommissioning

Belgian court allows Doel 3 nuclear reactor decommissioning |

The works currently carried out at the Doel 3 reactor scheduled for decommissioning can continue, ruled the Brussels Court of First Instance.

In accordance with the 2003 Belgian law on nuclear phase-out, the Doel 3 nuclear reactor was shut down this year and work to prepare the reactor for dismantling has begun.

However, Vinçotte Nuclear (AVN), a non-profit organisation, believes that dismantling violates EU law as no environmental impact report has been published. The group then filed a summary proceeding to stop the works of the Doel 3 power plant, at least until an assessment and report have been completed.

Engie-Electrabel, the operator of Belgian nuclear power plants, the Belgian state and the Federal Agency for Nuclear Control argue that works taking place at Doel 3 are not part of the dismantling of the nuclear reactor but of the post-operational phase (POP), which is when power generation ceases but dismantling is yet to begin, a phase lasting approximately five years.

The Brussels Court of First Instance ruled on Tuesday that the work can continue as it found that an EIA was not necessary in the context of the current activities.

According to the court, the 2003 Belgian law was not covered by the 2011 EU directive on the assessment of the effects of certain projects on the environment but by the 1985 directive on EIA, which stipulates that the directive does not apply to projects covered by a specific national law.

In addition, the court found that the Belgian nuclear phase-out law covers Doel 3 and states it cannot be considered a project under the most recent EIA directive, which defines a project as “the execution of construction works or other installations or schemes, [or] other interventions in the natural surroundings and landscape.”

AVN can still appeal this decision.

(Anne-Sophie Gayet |


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