Take a look at what Jan Bens, chief of Belgium's nuclear watchdog FANC, had to say about wind turbines the other day:
"The harbour of Antwerp is being filled with windmills, and the chemical industry is next to it. If there is an accident like a break in one of the wings, that is a guillotine. If that goes through a chloride pipe somewhere, it will be a problem of a bigger magnitude than what can happen at [Belgian nuclear power plant] Doel. Windmills are more dangerous than nuclear power plants."
Wind turbines are more dangerous than nuclear power plants? Tell that to the people of Chernobyl and Fukushima, Mr Bens.
It's such a mind-boggling thing to say, I'm not sure where to begin. This is just a theory but it's possible that Mr Bens is just a little confused. Maybe he watched the movie Mission Impossible 3 and mistook it for a documentary…
Yes, wind turbines are clearly dangerous. If you're a ruggedly handsome superspy flying recklessly through a wind farm in a helicopter while someone is firing missiles at you and you're trying to save someone's life, that is. If you're not, you're perfectly safe.
De Morgen, the media outlet that ran the Bens/dangerous windmills story in the first place, was so surprised by his outburst that it followed up with an opinion piece that called Bens Nuclear Ali, comparing him to former Iraqi information minister Comical Ali, who steadfastly said Iraq was winning the war with the US even as American tanks were rolling into Baghdad.
So why would Mr Bens say such an unbelievably ridiculous thing? Can he really mean it? Or could the actual reason for his outburst be him trying to deflect attention from the news that his organisation has just sanctioned the reopening of two nuclear reactors in Belgium which were closed after cracks were found in their reactor vessels?
It's not a handful of microscopic cracks we're talking about here, but more than 8,000 cracks in the Doel 3 reactor and more than 2,000 in Tihange 2. There is no certainty about how the cracks occurred, only guesses and assumptions.
Guesses and assumptions on emergency planning are also why Greenpeace Belgium has filed a lawsuit against the Belgian government for gross negligence. A document filed with the case refers to a review showing the emergency plans are completely inadequate.
And really odd in some details. For example, emergency evacuation centres for Doel include a deteriorated, now unused slaughterhouse and other centres between 14 and 20 km of the reactor. Would you like to be evacuated to a slaughterhouse? Would you like to be evacuated to a centre only 14 or 20 km from a reactor accident, when people in Chernobyl were evacuated within 30 km and people in Fushima within 20 km, plus a few areas up to 50 km away?
Experts and other nuclear watchdogs seriously doubt the safety of Doel 3 and Tihange 2, including, the French nuclear watchdog ASN, Dieter Majer, the former head of the German nuclear control agency, and Willy De Roovere, the guy Bens replaced as FANC director
When did you last hear a coalition of experts and watchdogs warn about the safety of a wind farm?
This is how and why wind energy and nuclear power are so completely different. Talking about the dangers of wind compared to nuclear is like talking about the dangers of kittens compared to tigers.
Do wind farms need "emergency contingency planning"? When was the last time we had a meltdown at a wind farm? Does wind power have the potential to cause the destruction we see at Chernobyl and Fukushima?
Why am I even asking these questions? Thanks making us laugh, Mr Bens, but can we have a more serious contribution to the debate next time?