POLITICS & INSTITUTIONS - ECONOMY

Lux environment minister clashes with Belgian counterpart



Luxembourg environment minister Carole Dieschbourg, pictured, has been accused of “a serious diplomatic incident” Patrick Galbats/archives

Luxembourg environment minister Carole Dieschbourg, pictured, has been accused of “a serious diplomatic incident” Patrick Galbats/archives

Luxembourg’s environment ministry appears to have stirred up a hornet's nest after criticising the Belgian government plans to bury nuclear waste just a stone’s throw from the Luxembourg border.

Belgian nuclear waste authority Ondraf is drawing up a policy for managing high level and long lived radioactive waste, through underground burial, also known as geological disposal.

According to the Luxembourg government, it has outlined seven sites in an impact report that are within 90 kilometres of the Luxembourg border. Some areas, such as the Neufchâteau syncline, cross the border, while in Gaume the proposed site starts five kilometres from the border.

Speaking on Tuesday, environment minister Carole Dieschbourg (déi Gréng) said that the report fails to assess the cross-border effects of geological storage, suggesting they be analysed at a later stage.

She further added that the approach contravenes the Espoo Convention’s protocol for strategic environmental assessment and pointed out the civil liability for nuclear damage.

Counterpart denies claims

Belgian environment minister Marie-Christine Marghem responded to her Luxembourg counterpart's allegations on Wednesday calling the press conference “a serious diplomatic incident”. According to the Brussels Times, she claims Dieschbourg did not contact the ministers concerned and says that no storage sites had been identified.

“Distributing a map with these supposed sites to the Luxembourg population or talking about possible water pollution is nothing less than a harmful disinformation campaign,” the Brussels Times quoted her as saying.

Luxembourg has no nuclear power facilities and one pillar of the current government’s climate policy is non-use of nuclear energy.

Last year, it began drawing up a new law that would increase the possibility of legal action by citizens in Luxembourg in the event of a nuclear accident at power stations in neighbouring countries.