From: Associated Press
Published June 24, 2005 12:00 AM

Ruling Dutch Political Party Advocates Nuclear Energy in Policy Paper

THE HAGUE, Netherlands — Netherlands Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende's party said Thursday that the country needed more nuclear reactors because the country cannot rely on fossil fuels, which contribute to global warming.


The policy paper by the Christian Democratic Appeal, or CDA, is the latest sign of a reversal in the trend to phase out nuclear power, reflecting the growing concern about climate change and the requirements of the Kyoto Protocol to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide, the main byproduct of burning coal and oil.


The Netherlands has one nuclear reactor used for energy. The Borssele plant had until recently been scheduled for closure, but all parties in the governing coalition now agree it must remain active.


Balkenende's government reopened the sensitive debate on nuclear power in February, saying all options needed to be considered as the country tried to meet its growing energy needs.


The main opposition Labor Party, which is roughly as large as the CDA, continues to support Borssele's closure.


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In its policy blueprint released Thursday, the CDA said not only should Borssele remain on line, but more reactors should be built.


It also suggested investing heavily in alternative energy sources such as solar, wind and biomass, while working to cut use of fossil fuels, and reducing overall energy use by consumers and industry.


"Nuclear energy will remain an option during the transition to durable energy to reduce CO2 emissions from electricity production," the party said in a statement. "By focusing on the development of clean energy technology, the Netherlands will gain an economic advantage."


Environmental activists from Greenpeace stepped up their campaign against nuclear energy, citing the threat of nuclear accidents and the problems of disposing of waste. On Wednesday, they dumped 200 empty oil drums -- labeled as nuclear waste -- into a pond outside the parliament building.


"We demand that the Cabinet stand by its earlier commitment to close Borssele in 2013 and opt for a durable energy policy that focuses on saving energy and safe energy sources," Greenpeace said in a statement.


The Borssele reactor has been the focus of protests by environmental groups for decades. It is owned by the Zuid Nederland Electricity Company and has a thermal power of 450 megawatts, enough to power a million homes.


Source: Associated Press


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