In Europe, we are currently in an active debate about how the public should be involved in decisions around the extension of the lifetime of ageing nuclear power reactors beyond the their initial technical lifetime of 30 or 40 years: There are court cases on the issue in Belgium and the Netherlands; the European Court of Justice assesses questions from the Belgian High Court; the Aarhus Convention Compliance Committee recently found the Netherlands in non-compliance with the Aarhus Convention for not organising public participation; Ukraine has been found in non-compliance with the Espoo Convention; and the Espoo Convention parties are deliberating in a special ad-hoc working group. European citizens are now invited to give their views on the lifetime extension of France’s fleet of 900 MW reactors. In the coming years, each of these reactors will reach the age of 40 years. Because of the wider European debate, it is interesting to see what the nation with the most nuclear reactors in Europe is doing in this respect. Most of France’s nuclear fleet of 58 reactors was built in a relative short time period in the 1970s and 1980s and the entire fleet is now facing the end of its initial technical lifetime of 40 years. Under the obligations of the Aarhus Convention, any decision to prolong their lifetime should be preceded by meaningful public participation concerning environmental issues – this was recently confirmed during the case of the Dutch nuclear power station Borssele. The primary advisor to the European Court of Justice, advocate general Juliane Kokott came in the end of last year to the conclusion that the Espoo Convention and the EU EIA Directive in conjunction with the Aarhus Convention oblige Belgium to carry out an Environmental Impact Assessment for the life-time extension of the Doel 1 and 2 nuclear reactors. The European Court is expected to come with its response later this year, and it is widely expected that this verdict will also make an EIA necessary for France’s fleet.
Nuclear Transparency Watch 27th Feb 2019 read more »