Europe has its own nuclear realities to deal with. One example is in the Belgian town of Huy, in Wallonia. There are three nuclear reactors at its Tihange facility. The oldest reactor was built 34 years ago, and the country has four others. Although Belgium capped their lifetimes at 40, recommendations were later made to extend this.
For better or worse, the people of Huy have got used to their power plant, but their feelings are mixed. Here is what three of them told euronews:
“I’m not afraid of nuclear power where Tihange is concerned, because I know how it works and we’ve been invited to visit, to reassure us how it’s built.”
“In my opinion, the rescue plans are very badly done, and, in any case, people are not very well informed.”
“I’m in favour of alternative energies. I don’t support nuclear.”
The mayor of Huy weighs these opinions with his economic and political reckoning.
Alexis Housiaux said: “The people here generally like their power station. It’s part of the landscape, which is a problem, since they’ve grown accustomed to it. We have to keep a sharp eye on security; the inhabitants say they want optimal security. I do not think that a majority of them would like it to close.”
“Even after Japan?” our correspondent asked.
“Even after Japan,” the mayor replied.
A report produced by the International Atomic Energy Agency at the request of a Belgian senator in 2006 said one of the reactors at Huy fell below the current earthquake resistance standard.
Carrying out a routine safety drill, local firefighter Lucien Caterina said: “If the dome ever gave way because a plane crashed into it or because of a technical problem in the plant, we could be called here with the truck, to send water onto the dome inside the power station.”
Yet Anne-Marie Lizin, a member of the Belgian Senate, noted that ground storage pools are where cracks can appear and said they must be reinforced.
Our correspondent Sergio Cantone said: “Japan looks really far away to the inhabitants of Tihange and Huy, and they do not feel not particularly concerned by the Japanese situation.”