Nuclear plant closure to cost up to EUR 1bn

22nd February 2005, Comments 0 comments

22 February 2005, AMSTERDAM — Closing the Borssele nuclear reactor in Zeeland could cost up to EUR 1 billion, Environment State Secretary Pieter van Geel told MPs on Monday, further sharpening discussion about the future of nuclear energy in he Netherlands.

22 February 2005

AMSTERDAM — Closing the Borssele nuclear reactor in Zeeland could cost up to EUR 1 billion, Environment State Secretary Pieter van Geel told MPs on Monday, further sharpening discussion about the future of nuclear energy in he Netherlands.

The revelation comes after state secretary, a member of the Christian Democrat CDA party, said last week that the money spent on closing the plant as scheduled in 2013 could be better used for investment in sustainable energy production.

It was agreed in the coalition government accord in 2002 that the nuclear plant should be closed in 2013. The decision represented a continuation of the anti-nuclear stance held by the Dutch government in recent years.

But debate flared again last week after Van Geel suggested the high costs of closing the plant meant the planned shutdown should be delayed. Small government party Democrat D66 immediately rejected the proposal.

The Liberal VVD has always been in favour of keeping the Borssele plant open, while the CDA is not yet prepared to break the coalition accord. Instead, the CDA wants to weigh up the pros and cons of closing the plant, the last operating nuclear power station in the Netherlands.

CDA Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende subsequently laid down the ground rules of the debate for Cabinet ministers last week. Confirming that the government will for the time being stick to its decision to close the plant in 2013, he said discussion around the future of nuclear energy was welcome.

Van Geel has since told MPs that the owner of the nuclear plant, EPZ, is refusing to co-operate with the 2013 closure. He has sought legal advice from the government attorney and policy research institute ECN Beleidsstudies over the legal and financial consequences of EPZ's stance.

The government attorney says that payment of compensation to the electricity company — which has an unrestricted permit — would be "inescapable" in the event of a forced closure.

ECN estimates the subsequent financial loss for EPZ would range from several hundred million euros up to EUR 1 billion, newspaper De Volkskrant reported on Tuesday.

Opposition party Labour PvdA is now concerned that EPZ will lodge a higher claim for compensation, news service NOS reported. Diederik Samsom accused Van Geel of trying to sabotage the closure of the plant by giving away the government's bargaining position.

Environmental lobby group Greenpeace is also accusing Van Geel of driving the compensation bill higher by giving EPZ approval for further investment in its plant.

The coalition's decision to close the nuclear plant in 2013 can only be overturned if all three government parties agree to the change in policy. The Lower House of Parliament, Tweede Kamer, will hold an emergency debate about the matter later this week.

[Copyright Expatica News 2005]

Subject: Dutch news

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