Belgium - Plutonium Investigation n°9

What Next ?

As in 1993, when a parliamentary debate led to the moratorium (Cf. page 4), a debate is planned to take place at the end of this year in order to prepare a vote of a resolution. However, as of the end of September 1998, no official schedule had been decided. In 1993, the discussions lasted several days and had comprised hearings of experts from different countries (including Mycle Schneider from WISE-Paris). The 1998 debate is not expected to be as important as in 1993. Sources in Belgium say that the Government is only planning for a limited half-day debate. It remains to be seen how the members of parliament will react to such a distortion of the original decision to hold a full-scale debate on the issue. To be sure, the new attribution of the administration of Energy to Defence Minister Jean-Pol Poncelet (as of June 1998), thus replacing in this task Elio Di Rupo, will affect the process. Elio Di Rupo did not favor much public debate on nuclear issues, neither with public and journalists nor with other members of the Government. But Jean-Pol Poncelet might become an outspoken MOX lobbyist, since he has been deeply involved with these subjects for many years. He worked for five years as an engineer on MOX issues with Belgonucléaire and later held several top positions in the nuclear administration. The highest responsibility he has had is President of the Board of the National Waste Management Agency ONDRAF, from 1991 to 1995. If waste minimisation is to be a specific goal, government and parliament should quickly agree on the phase out of any plutonium recycle strategy. And in any case ONDRAF will have to manage a significant stock of unreprocessed spent fuel.

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