Safety and care first in nuclear energy

Lessons from events in Japan will play a part in determining the criteria for a new nuclear energy power station in the Netherlands. In a letter to the House of Representatives, Mr Verhagen, Minister of Economic Affairs, Agriculture and Innovation, writes that safety and care must come first when building new nuclear power stations.

Of the three preferred sites for the construction of a new nuclear power plant the procedures necessary for spatial integration will only be started in Borssele, as the concrete initiatives are already in progress. On the basis of the first explorative study of the engineering consultancy Arcadis, Minister Verhagen has concluded that there is room for one new nuclear power station at the site.

For this one new nuclear power station at Borselle an Environmental Assessment Report and a spatial integration plan will be drawn up first. The Government has not expressed a preference for either company, Delta NV or Energy Resources Holding BV, that have shown interest in building are willing to build the reactor.

Minister Verhagen and Minister Schultz of Infrastructure have published a preparatory land-use decision that protects the designated area from other developments that may hinder the construction of a nuclear power station.

Nuclear energy is important in the transition towards renewable energy provision. As nuclear power stations do not emit greenhouse gases they do not contribute to global warming. They do contribute to the security of energy supply.

Lessons learnt from Japan

In his Letter to the House, Minister Verhagen describes the steps being taken by the International Atomic Energy Agency and the European Union following events in Japan. The consequences for the issue of a licence for a new nuclear power station to be built in the Netherlands depends on how the international evaluation proceeds and the moment when the energy company applies for a licence.

"It is evident that all lessons will be incorporated in the licence procedures. I still believe it is possible to issue licences for a new nuclear plant to be built in the Netherlands," the Minister said.

Spatial integration

The report from Arcadis "Inpasbaarheid van energie-initiatieven in het Sloegebied" on the spatial integration of a new reactor, accompanied the letter to the House. The engineering consultancy concludes from its study that the availability of cooling water, spatial integration and the possibility to link up to the power grid, all make a new power plant operational before 2020 a viable option.