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Nuclear power station in Tihange, Belgium

Tihange has three reactors, often malfunctioning. There are concerns about their safety expressed even by the official agency for nuclear security. There are also complaints from neighbouring coutries. It's time to close it down.


The Tihange Nuclear Power Station has 3 reactors and is one of two nuclear power plants in Belgium. The plant is located on the bank of the Meuse River, only 3km from the city centre of Huy in the Walloon province of Liège, which has borders with The Netherlands, Germany and Luxemburg. The Belgian energy corporation ENGIE Electrabel is the plant's largest shareholder. Tihange 1 (962MW) came online in 1975, Tihange 2 (1008 MW) in 1983 and Tihange 3 (1015 MW) in 1985.   The units were designed for an operational lifetime of 30 years. In 2003, a Belgian law concerning the closure of the Belgian nuclear reactors permitted an operational lifetime of 40 years for the three reactors in Tihange. On July 4, 2012, however, the Belgian government decided that Tihange 1 could operate 50 years.

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:Nuclear power station in Tihange, Belgium
State or province:Liège
Location of conflict:Huy
Accuracy of locationHIGH (Local level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict. 1st level:Nuclear
Specific commodities:Uranium
Project Details and Actors
Project details

Laws were passed in Belgium in 2003 (with Olivier Deleuze as Secretary of Energy) to ensure that no additional nuclear plants would be built in Belgium, and to limit the lifespans of the existing plants to 40 years. As so many other nuclear power stations of their generation in other countries, the reactors at Tihange near Huy are old and dangerous. They are owned by ENGIE Electrabel, that itself belongs to a French company. Court cases are pending, including some from neighbouring countries and the city of Aachen. Several reactors have had to be stopped for some time due to various incidents but in at least one case also because of structural degradation: thousands of fissures in the steel around the reactor. However, ENGIE Electrabel finds the old reactors profitable and makes small investments to prolong their lives up to 50 and later maybe up to 60 years. There are growing complaints in Belgium (a small, densely populated country) and also in The Netherlands and Germany - from high profile politicians such as the interior minister of The Netherlands and the president of the European Parliament.

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Project area:75
Type of populationUrban
Affected Population:6 million
Start of the conflict:01/01/1975
Company names or state enterprises:ENGIE - Electrabel from Belgium
Relevant government actors:Federal Agency for Nuclear Control
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Ecolo
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityMEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
Reaction stageIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups mobilizing:International ejos
Local ejos
Local government/political parties
Local scientists/professionals
Forms of mobilization:Involvement of national and international NGOs
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Official complaint letters and petitions
Public campaigns
Street protest/marches
Environmental ImpactsPotential: Air pollution, Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Fires, Food insecurity (crop damage), Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Soil contamination, Waste overflow, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Groundwater pollution or depletion, Large-scale disturbance of hydro and geological systems, Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity, Other Environmental impacts
Other Environmental impactsRadiation that kills life in a vast circle around the plant is a potential threat
Health ImpactsVisible: Accidents, Exposure to unknown or uncertain complex risks (radiation, etc…)
Potential: Mental problems including stress, depression and suicide, Occupational disease and accidents, Deaths, Other environmental related diseases
Socio-economical ImpactsPotential: Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors, Displacement, Increase in violence and crime, Lack of work security, labour absenteeism, firings, unemployment, Loss of livelihood, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Militarization and increased police presence, Violations of human rights, Land dispossession, Loss of landscape/sense of place, Other socio-economic impacts
Project StatusIn operation
Conflict outcome / response:Court decision (undecided)
New legislation
Under negotiation
New Environmental Impact Assessment/Study
Project temporarily suspended
Proposal and development of alternatives:Many different EJOs have put forward various plans for replacing the energy produced by Belgium's nuclear power plants with energy from renewables.
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:No
Briefly explain:Until December 2016 the reactors remain open although they represent a threat.
Sources & Materials
References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

Report by environmental NGO federations from Flanders and Wallonia that sums up why nuclear power is a bad idea
[click to view]

EUI 10 October 2016. Belgium is scheduled to completely phase out the use of nuclear reactors by 2025, with the first of its seven reactors slated to go offline in 2022.
[click to view]

La Libre Belgique. Sûreté nucléaire : Deux lettres accablantes et alarmantes destinées à Electrabel. LAURENT LAMBRECHT. 19 novembre 2016.
[click to view]

Centrales nucléaires: Ecolo lance la campagne "Fermons Tihange 2"
[click to view]

How the city of Aachen is suing to have Tihange stopped
[click to view]

A long list of media articles on the wikipedia page of the power plant
[click to view]

Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

20 March 2016. Shut old nuclear reactors, says unprecedented alliance of EU cities.
[click to view]

Campagne from German Greens to close down Tihange, [email protected]
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Nucléaire civil : les centrales Belges inquiètent l'Europe
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This is the website of the international initiative against the nuclear power plant Tihange in Belgium. Here you can find information on Tihange and about actions by the initiative.
[click to view]

Meta information
Contributor:Nick Meynen, European Environmental Bureau, [email protected]
Last update18/08/2019
Conflict ID:2511
Legal notice / Aviso legal
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