Greenpeace invades nuclear power plant in Belgium

Press release - 1 July, 2002

Around forty Greenpeace activists enter the Doel nuclear power plant in Belgium protesting against the renewable energy discrimination by the Belgian government.

Greenpeace activists today invaded a nuclear power plant in Belgium as part of the Rainbow Warrior's Choose Positive Energy North Sea Tour. Forty volunteers entered the Doel nuclear power plant of in Belgium at 5.30 this morning. Ten activists climbed the 170m cooling tower and unfolded a banner reading "Stop nuclear power". At 9.00am Greenpeace's flagship, the Rainbow Warrior II, anchored in the Scheld River, where the nuclear power plant is located, just at the end of water pipelines taking water for the cooling of the nuclear plant. Another 35m long banner has been attached to the Rainbow Warrior reading "Go wind, Stop Nuclear". Three 3m high symbolic wind turbines have been attached to pylons offshore the nuclear plant as well. Greenpeace is demanding the replacement of dirty electricity sources like nuclear power by renewable energy sources.

The offshore wind potential in the North Sea is more than double the total electricity production of the North Sea countries. According to Greenpeace, it is all too clear that wind energy has a tremendous potential, as proven by many studies ( . Within one generation, offshore wind can provide one third of the needs of countries bordering the North Sea: Denmark, Germany, Belgium, United Kingdom, and the Netherlands. A recent study, published on demand from the UK Prime Minister Tony Blair, concludes that wind energy is actually cheaper than nuclear power.

"Nuclear power prevents the large-scale development of renewable energy in many countries," said Jan Van de Putte, head of the Greenpeace energy campaign in Belgium. "Nuclear power benefits from several advantages (limited liability in case of accident, subsidies for research, free access to the grid) that actually form unfair competition within the electricity market. Greenpeace, promoting a large-scale development of renewables, wants to put an end to these unacceptable privileges."

The Belgian parliament will debate in coming weeks the draft law on nuclear phase-out which would limit the operating license for nuclear reactors to a lifetime of 40 years, thereby forcing a closure of three oldest reactors in 2015 and four of the second generation in 2025.

At the same time, Greenpeace urges the Belgium parliament and the government to implement a real energy policy ensuring that the alternative be ready for the nuclear phase-out. Priority access should be given to renewable energy and cogeneration (combined heat and power).

"The fact is that wind energy in now cheaper than nuclear," said Van de Putte. "This means that along with cogeneration and energy efficiency, the alternative to nuclear energy is available. It also means that it would be foolish to keep these dangerous reactors working for 23 years. Members of the Belgium parliament, about to vote on the law, have to take their responsibility with respect to future generations and put an end to the obstacles in the way of renewable energies."

In the lead up to the Earth Summit in Johannesburg in August, the Rainbow Warrior, is undertaking a "Choose Positive Energy Tour" around the North Sea to support the development of renewable energy around the world. Next month the Arctic Sunrise will begin the second leg of the Choose Positive Energy tour in South East Asia. The ship will be visiting the Philippines and Thailand where communities there are rejecting dirty old-fashioned energy technology like coal fired power stations, and demanding clean renewable energy to fill the growing demand in the region.

This activity is part of Greenpeace's Countdown to the Johannesburg Earth Summit, August 26th to September 6th. Greenpeace is campaigning for governments to take the lead in global sustainability, and stop abdicating their responsibilities to corporations for protection of the planet.

Notes: Documents on the development of wind power are to be found on', among others a document comparing the cost of wind power and the cost of nuclear power.