Thursday, February 24, 2005

The Nuclear Energy Debate In Holland

There's an interesting debate going on in Holland, where environmentalists are pressing the government to shut down the Borssele nuclear plant in 2013 -- but a number of pro-nuclear supporters are fighting it, saying that the plant can still be operated safely for years to come:

Borssele, which produces some 4 to 5 percent of Dutch electricity, was built in 1973 and it was anticipated at the time it would have a 40-year lifespan.

Utility EPZ, the plant's operator, won a court battle against the government two years ago to leave the plant open past an initial planned closure date of 2004, set by Dutch parliament in 1994.

Concerns about radioactive waste and the 1986 disaster at the former Soviet Union's Chernobyl plant have sparked widespread opposition to nuclear power in the environmentally-conscious Netherlands.

But there have been growing calls to keep Borssele open.

A recent Dutch opinion poll showed that 65 percent think Borssele can remain open while 23 percent say it should not.


A lot of what's happened in the commercial nuclear sector here in the U.S. should cheer the folks in Holland who want to keep Borssele open.

10 years ago, many industry observers thought that the American commercial nuclear industry was in permanent decline. Some analysts predicted that nuclear plants wouldn't able to survive in newly deregulated electricity markets. Instead, the exact opposite happened, as the commercial nuclear energy sector has maintained its place in the nation's energy mix through license renewal.

Here in the U.S., 30 reactors have had their licenses renewed by the NRC, and another 18 are currently under review.

Five years ago, when Calvert Cliffs became the first U.S. nuclear plant to renew its license, the process was a novel concept. Today it's routine. And one day, it could be in Holland too.

No comments: