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Germany asks Belgium to turn off 2 nuclear reactors

Staff writer ▼ | April 20, 2016
Germany has asked Belgium to take two of its nuclear reactors offline, citing safety concerns.
Belgium nuclear
Nuclear energy   A strong precautionary signal
The environment minister said doing so would show that Brussels “takes the concerns of its German neighbors seriously.”

Barbara Hendricks urged Belgium on Wednesday to take its Tihange 2 and Doel 3 reactors offline “until open safety questions are cleared up.” German officials have expressed concerns over the safety of the reactor pressure vessels.

Taking the reactors offline “would be a strong precautionary signal and would show that Belgium takes the concerns of its German neighbors seriously,” Hendricks said in a statement.

Deputy Environment Minister Jochen Flasbarth stressed that such a request has never before been made by Germany to a neighboring state.

“This is an unusual procedure,” he told reporters, adding that the decision had not been taken lightly, and that Berlin would give Brussels time to respond.

Belgium's nuclear regulator, AFCN, said on Wednesday that it’s surprised by Germany's request, adding that the nuclear reactors meet the most strict safety standards.

AFCN said it’s willing to work with its German counterparts so long as there is a willingness to be “constructive,” but that it does not intend to reverse its decision to allow the reactors to operate, Bloomberg reported.

The operator of the reactors, Electrabel - the Belgian unit of Engie – also said it was surprised by the request.