Fourth quarter of 2000

The Belgian Secretary of State for Energy accuses the nuclear lobby of 'sabotage on the Government's decision'

Hereafter follows the full press release sent out by the Belgian Secretary of State for Energy and Sustainable development on 12 October 2000.

[Posted 26/10/2000]


rue des Colonies 56, 1000 BRUSSELS
Tél. 02/227.07.00 - Fax 02/219.79.30 Brussels, 12/10/00


Return of nuclear waste: the nuclear lobby attempts to undermine the Belgian government's decision

Background: facts about the return of Belgian nuclear waste from La Hague, France

On 5 April 2000, a consignment of 28 canisters of nuclear waste from the Cogéma plant in La Hague (France) arrived, via the Mol/Dessel rail station, at Belgoprocess, an industrial subsidiary of ONDRAF**. This consignment, the first of a series, was accepted by the Belgians, but only under strict conditions fixed by their government. In a decision made on 3 March 2000, the Belgian government expressed a wish that, before programming of any further transport, strict quality inspections should be carried out on the waste received in Belgium.

  1. On 15 March 2000, the KERN approved the following terms in a letter addressed by Mr. Olivier Deleuze to Synatom*:

    "The government has decided to mark its agreement by accepting handover and transfer of responsibility for the first 28 canisters of vitrified waste arriving in Belgium in this first consignment.

    The government has judged it necessary to complete the physical checks carried out on the canisters with destructive testing of active samples already available or to be made available to the Belgian state by Cogéma. In the event of differences in results of analyses, additional conditions may be fixed for subsequent consignments.

    The Belgian government will take charge of the canisters of vitrified waste in Belgian facilities designed for the purpose, so long as the possible additional conditions are complied with.

    The physical checks will be carried out by an independent body chosen by the Belgian Secretary of State for Energy and Sustainable Development, Mr. Olivier Deleuze. Checks will relate to compliance of the packages with the acceptance criteria established by ONDRAF**, and also to the behaviour of the waste over time, in order to guarantee safety of its disposal in the future. "

    These terms were also used in a letter, of 24 March 2000, sent to Greenpeace and signed by Guy Verhofstadt and Olivier Deleuze.

  2. In the light of this decision, Mr. Deleuze wrote to ONDRAF, on 6 July 2000, requesting that it should not gives its assent to the second consignment for the time being. Initially, this was, correctly, communicated to Synatom, by letter on 7 September 2000.

  3. However, it now appears that ONDRAF nevertheless wishes to authorise transport, thus opposing the checks decided by the government and thereby reinforcing the misgivings of the Belgian population with regard to the nuclear lobby and its lack of transparency.

  4. Olivier Deleuze observes that the development of the programme for monitoring of nuclear waste is being systematically undermined by the nuclear lobby which views such a programme as unacceptable interference by the political authorities in its own private domain.


Press information: Olivier ARENDT 02/227.07.41

*SYNATOM s.a.: Subsidiary of Electrabel and Tractebel, it is responsible for providing fissile material for Belgian nuclear power stations.

** ONDRAF: Belgian national body responsible for management of radioactive waste.

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