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Shut old nuclear reactors, says unprecedented alliance of EU cities via The Guardian

Communities and campaigners in Germany, the Netherlands and Luxembourg lobby for closure of two ageing 40-year old Belgian nuclear reactors close to borders

An unprecedented alliance of 30 major cities and districts from three countries has joined forces to try to shut down two ageing Belgian nuclear reactors close to their borders.

Cologne and Dusseldorf in Germany, Luxembourg City and Maastricht in the Netherlands are among the cities co-funding a lawsuit to close one reactor – Tihange 2 – and calling on the European commission to prepare a separate case at the European court of justice.

“More than 30 districts have adopted resolutions to support us, and want to join the lawsuit,” said Helmut Echtenberg, the mayor of Germany’s Greater Aachen region, who is leading the campaign.

Only one plaintiff may appear in court, “but we will ensure that Tihange 2 is no longer connected to the grid in the future,“ Echtenberg said. “This is my honest conviction.”


Last week, it was announced that France’s oldest reactor in Fessenheim, on the German border, would close after complaints by Germany and Switzerland.

Lawyers are already working on a second nuclear lawsuit, which may be filed in Belgium by the Dutch city of Maastricht. The regional governments of North Rhine Westphalia and Rhineland Palatinate are taking separate cases against the reactors to the UN and European commission.

Martin Schulz, the president of the European parliament, is said to be a supporter of the campaign and may add heft to its call for the release of allegedly missing documents authorising the reopening of the two reactors.


De Proot said he agreed with the anti-nuclear case but: “the plant is the only thing for people here. If it closed there would be a lot of trauma. Unemployment in Belgium is very high.”

Not all local people agree. In the nearby town of Huy, Marie Duschen, a 19-year-old student said: “The plants should be closed down because they are dangerous. I have friends working in Tihange. They are afraid that an accident may happen.”

Such sentiments are music to the ears of German anti-nuclear activists who worry that they could revive ghosts of history if they are perceived to be dictating energy policy to their neighbours.

“I do not have the right to demand that a Belgian produces energy my way but there is a real threat from these two reactors and I do have the right to protect my health,” said Jorg Schellenberg, a key activist in the Aachen coalition for action against nuclear power.

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