50,000 protesters form 90km human chain to demand closure of aging Belgian nuclear reactors

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Protesters calling for the closure of two Belgian nuclear plants take part in a 90-kilometre-long human chain in Tihange, Belgium June 25, 2017 © Eric Vidal / Reuters

Thousands of protestors have formed a 90-kilometer human chain around the border triangle of Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands to demand the closure of the two reactors at Belgium’s Tihange and Doel nuclear power stations.
The organizers said that 50,000 people from Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands joined the action Sunday.

The human chain originated from the Tihange plant, located in Huy municipality in the Wallon province of Liege in Belgium, going through Maastricht in the Netherlands to end in the German city of Aachen.

The protesters said that they were concerned with the safety of the pressure vessels at the Tihange 2 and Doel 3 reactor near Antwerp.

“The first demand is actually to stop Tihange 2, because there are many, many fissures in that power plant and it’s not secure,” Rodrique Dumas, protester and Huy city council member for the Green Party, told RT’s Ruptly video agency.

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The units in question at Tihange and Doel nuclear power stations went online in 1982-83 and “were not made to last so long,” another Huy city council member, Samuel Cogolati, added.

“And we’ve been prolonging their life time, and this is extremely unusual. Actually, there are only nine nuclear plants in the world that have been lasting for so long,” Cogolati added.

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In mid-June, Belgian Interior Minister Jan Jambon confirmed that 70 new micro-cracks were discovered in the Tihange 2 high-pressure boiler since the 2015 inspection, which recorded 3,149 imperfections. New damage points were also reportedly found at Doel 3, but the authorities insist that both plants are perfectly safe.

READ MORE: Dozens of new cracks discovered at Belgian nuclear reactors

Belgium has prolonged the lifespan of its aged reactors due to 39 percent of the country’s demand in electricity being satisfied by its seven nuclear reactors. Over 6 percent of Belgium’s electricity is generated by the two reactors in question.

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Last year Germany, which decided to get rid of its nuclear reactors by 2022 after the Fukushima disaster, urged Belgium to switch off Tihange 2 and Doel 3 “until open safety questions are cleared up.”