Nuclear safety threat amid 'watchdog failures'

6th December 2005, Comments 0 comments

6 December 2005, BRUSSELS — The Belgian nuclear safety watchdog FANC-AFCN has been failing year after year while costing taxpayers dearly, inquiries have indicated.

6 December 2005

BRUSSELS — The Belgian nuclear safety watchdog FANC-AFCN has been failing year after year while costing taxpayers dearly, inquiries have indicated.

The claim was made on Tuesday following news last week that three of the Federal Agency for Nuclear Inspection's four directors had been dismissed.

An external audit claims the directors were incompetent, one of whom was fired. The two others were pushed aside and are now listed with the organisation as "'experts", with salary retention.

However, the audit also revealed a series of problems encountered at FANC-AFCN in recent years, newspaper 'Het Nieuwsblad' reported.

On glaring example was the high-profile failure of Telerad, an automatic measuring system to supervise radiological contamination in Belgium.

It cost BEF 1 billion to set up, but was only operational for two years and did not survive the millennium bug in 2000.

An inspector who offered solutions to the technical problems after three years was immediately fired by FANC-AFCN directors, reportedly due to fears the nuclear watchdog's failures would be brought to light.

Since its establishment in 1997, the FANC-AFCN has cost Belgian taxpayers some EUR 25 million.

Socialist SP.A MP Philippe De Coene is alarmed by the affair and has demanded an independent inquiry into Belgium's nuclear energy plants.

"If the supervision is inadequate, how can we believe that our nuclear safety is satisfactory?" De Coene asked.

He also said if the situation is under control, Interior Minister Patrick Dewael should have no objections to an independent inquiry.

[Copyright Expatica News 2005]

Subject: Belgian news

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