“Already in 1979, Doel had cracks,” reveals Belgian daily De Morgen. The Flemish-language newspaper is astonished that the reasons leading to the closure of the Doel 3 and Tihange 2 nuclear power plants – cracks in the reactor vessel – were known to the Federal Agency for Nuclear Control (FANC) at the time they went on line 33 years ago. “Minor errors often happen, in general they are harmless,” FANC director Willy De Roovere told the paper, adding that he “doesn’t remember very well” the circumstances under which he was induced to give the green light to the plants.
Faced with so much risk to both safety and to energy supply, De Morgen editor-in-chief Wouter Verschelden calls for “the need for thorough and proper monitoring regarding the safety of nuclear plants.” He also called for the creation of a new regulatory agency with a “serious director” and for the end of utility company Electrabel’s monopoly on Belgian nuclear energy. According to Verschelden, the company “exploits a quasi gold mine at Doel and Tihange” and has no interest in changing a situation which, from its point of view, “nears perfection”.