Belgium imports nuclear waste for first time in two decades

For the first time in two decades Belgium is importing nuclear waste. The Belgian nuclear treatment company Belgoprocess has been given permission to treat 120 tons of German radioactive waste.

The waste is low radioactive waste originating from Germany's medical sector.

Bart Thieren of Belgoprocess says that there is no danger for the population: "Our installation can incinerate this material under controlled conditions in an entirely safe fashion."

What remains of the waste will be returned to Germany.

The Flemish ecologists of Groen! do not believe that Belgium's caretaker government has the power to change current nuclear waste policy and allow the import of foreign waste. A Groen! spokesman told the daily De Morgen: "Again allowing foreign nuclear waste to be imported is like opening Pandora's box. Every nuclear transport, however small, involves a risk."

The treatment of foreign nuclear waste has been at a standstill since a scandal at the end of the 80's. As part of the so called Transnuklear Scandal the Nuclear Research Centre at Mol (Antwerp) cooked the books with regard to the illegal import and export of waste from German nuclear research centres.

In 2006 the government once again gave the green light for the import of nuclear waste, but it is only this year that the first dossier has been approved.