Campaigning group Avaaz have launching an alarming petition, signed by 350,000 people at time of writing:
Belgium: Stop the next Chernobyl
Nuclear experts are scared: Belgium has just restarted two ancient and cracked nuclear power plants that threaten to unleash another Chernobyl disaster right in the heart of Europe!
One of the ageing reactors suffered a fire and explosion weeks ago and Belgium’s own nuclear safety chief called for checks after discovering 16,000 cracks! Neighbouring countries like ours are raising the safety alarm and German Environment Minister, Barbara Hendricks, is ready to take our concerns into a meeting with Belgium on Monday... [and may] ...push Belgium to bring the plants to a halt until a thorough impact assessment is completed.
Leaving aside the alarmist language and comparisons, are these specific factual claims true:
- One of the reactors being started has recently "suffered a fire and explosion"
- Belgium's nuclear safety chief has called for checks, but the reactor will be started before all the relevant checks are complete
- 16,000 cracks (approximately) have been discovered. The way the sentence is written seems to imply that these cracks were linked to the explosion, but this isn't explicit.
- Ministers in neighbouring countries are voicing urgent concerns (including specifically German Environment Minister, Barbara Hendricks)