Huge knowledge potential about the nuclear industry in Belgium
When Belgium withdraws from nuclear energy in 2025, it could become an international reference country in the fields of decommissioning reactors and managing radioactive waste, among other things.
The political aspects of the energy transition are mentioned most often: safety of supply, acceptable energy prices for families and businesses, compliance with climate objectives, etc. But a nuclear phase-out certainly does not mean the end of the nuclear industry. On the contrary, it is an opportunity to develop new expertise that can be used over a period of 12 to 15 years per reactor during the last phases of its life. This is expertise in the dismantling of nuclear facilities and the management of radioactive waste.
Belgium was the first country in Europe to decommission a nuclear reactor, in 1987, the BR3 research reactor dating from 1962. The Belgian Nuclear Research Centre (SCK CEN) in Mol was responsible for the entire process, from the final shutdown, the decontamination and dismantling of the nuclear and non-nuclear buildings and installations, the restoration of the site to its original state and its re-use, which is still ongoing. BR3 is a school and, in turn, SCK CEN makes the acquired know-how available at national and international level. Belgium also has strong assets in the geological disposal of long-lived and high-level waste, and in the field of nuclear research and the training of various specialists.