September 1998 Editorial
Democracy or Pluto's Kingdom?
The presentation was a complete disaster. As everybody who assisted
that session of the Economic Affairs Committee at the Belgian Parliament
five years ago, when Electrabel and Synatom top managers gave evidence
on the plutonium strategy of the industry, will remember. In fact, the
speeches of the cream of the Belgian nuclear establishment had been
prepared by the Public Relations Departments of the respective companies
on the basis of transparencies (not transparency), but, unfortunately,
there was no overhead projector to use them. Tough luck, the bosses
were lost, they stammered, perspired, were yelled at and stormed out.
While this kind of misfortune can happen - and does happen - to anyone
of us doing presentations in public, the scene in the Belgian Parliament
was highly symbolic of an unhealthy but common phenomenon: the representatives
of the nuclear industry are not used to putting their decision making
up for public scrutiny. While any other public and private budget line
is subject to intense wheeling and dealing to avoid the usual cut, the
nuclear industry spends dozens of billions of dollars without ever having
to justify much. And certainly even less so in public. Over the last
five years the Belgian industry has demonstrated once more its lack
of respect of parliamentary decisions. While the December 1993 resolution
was based on a democratic process, the industry has not since done its
homework. Instead of carrying out the resolution to letter and spirit
of the law - and confront the parliament with a well tuned new back-end
strategy - the lobby most obviously has and is trying to cut short any
attempt to organise a real debate at the House of Representatives. Parliamentarians
where are you?
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