The teams from the Tihange and Doel nuclear power plants woke up with a hangover this morning after the very clear announcement from the management of Engie Electrabel who decided to stop investing in the extension of nuclear reactors, Doel 4 and Tihange 3. Damien Defourny, works in Tihange, for him it’s a shock even if he was a little expected. “We didn’t expect such transparency from our management. Now we knew we needed security equipment orders that had to be done this year if we wanted to continue. As for fuel, it’s a matter of a few months no more. So, indeed, this decision is a logical continuation. “
For every 10 jobs in a nuclear power plant, only one job in a gas power plant
The decision was not easy for Engie-Electrabel to take, but it is the consequence of an industrial agenda which is not the same as that of the political one. Workers, on the other hand, feel stuck in a gear. The two sites of Doel and Tihange represent a total of 7,000 jobs, of which 2,000 are statutory. The end of nuclear power at Doel and Tihange is therefore the equivalent of two Caterpillaer in figures but caused, in this case, by a political decision. A certain number of workers will be able to convert to gas power plants, but these jobs will be far from compensating for those in nuclear power. For every 600 to a thousand workers who operate a nuclear reactor, there are barely 60 workers in a gas power plant.
Tihange workers eyeing France
Romain Wijckmans is CGSP-Gazelco delegate, he has noticed in recent years that more and more workers from the nuclear sector are moving into the petrochemical sector. This is especially the case at Doel where the power station is near the port of Antwerp with all of its oil and gas terminals. In Tihange, that’s a whole different question. The workers may look around, jobs are not plentiful in the energy sector: very few in gas plants, none or almost in wind. So, some are eyeing France. ” Working in Belgium no longer guarantees us anything “, observe Damien Defourny.
Workers in the sector have long expected the ax to fall, but today they feel abandoned. ” Mostly, adds Damien Defourny, we feel drowned in the lie. A lot of things are being said about nuclear power that are not true. Seeing our nuclear power plants replaced by gas-fired plants or by power imported from Germany that uses a lot of coal-fired power plants, that frustrates us terribly. We do not feel that we are going for the better for the country. Very honestly.
Workers in the nuclear sector are also skilled workers. If they leave it is a skill that disappears. If the scenario of outright dismantling is confirmed, 2,000 workers in the nuclear sector would at least be guaranteed to continue their work … in the dismantling sector.