The French nuclear power plants at Graveling and Cattenom are at a greater distance from the border. As a result, Belgium falls outside their emergency planning zones.
The risk of a serious nuclear accident is small, but not non-existent. In the event of a nuclear accident involving a radioactive discharge, there is a risk to the environment and to humans (internal or external radiation).
- Find out in advance if you live in a nuclear emergency planning zone.
- Sign up to BE-Alert. This way, you are immediately notified in case of an emergency.
- Keep some iodine tablets in the house. These are available free of charge from pharmacies. Never take them on your own initiative.
- Sheltering is the best way to protect yourself.
- Go inside and stay inside. Enter the nearest building. Stay inside until you are informed that it is safe again.
- Close windows, doors and turn off ventilation systems. Preferably stay in a central area, on the ground floor. Walls and ceilings offer better protection than windows.
- Listen to the government's recommendations. Inform yourself about the right measures via radio, TV, the official websites and social media.
- Leave your children at school. They will follow the same recommendations.
- Do you have to evacuate? Listen to the instructions of the emergency services. Never evacuate on your own initiative.
- Wait for instructions from the government to take iodine tablets. Do not do this on your own initiative.
- Medical advice may follow. Listen to the media and follow the official channels to get all the information.
- A nuclear accident can have an impact on drinking water and food, for example via agriculture, livestock farming or vegetables from the garden. Follow the government's instructions.
Impact and probability
In 2018, the National Crisis Center coordinated a large-scale risk assessment for Belgium for the period 2018-2023. Several experts assessed various risks based on their probability and their impact on people, society, the environment and the economy.
For the risk of 'nuclear accident', the analysis is:
- Impact: catastrophic impact
- Probability: very unlikely
Read more about this analysis and what this chart means.
What do the authorities do?
In Belgium, the Federal Agency for Nuclear Control (FANC) closely monitors the safety of nuclear sites.
- There are strict safety regulations for each nuclear installation. Inspections and safety audits take place on a regular basis. If these rules are not applied, the FANC imposes the necessary measures on the installations, including shutdown.
- 237 monitoring stations spread throughout Belgium check the radioactivity in the air and in the water of rivers. If anything abnormal is noticed at these monitoring stations, they immediately send an alarm to the experts at the FANC.
Since 1991, Belgium has a national emergency plan for the management of nuclear and radiological accidents. This emergency plan defines, among other things, the emergency planning zones for each nuclear site. These are areas within which the emergency services, municipalities, governors and the National Crisis Center make additional preparations to protect the inhabitants. For the sites in Doel, Tihange, Mol-Dessel, Borssele and Chooz this area is set at 20 kilometres around the site. For the site in Fleurus, the area extends to 10 kilometres around the site.
In the event of a nuclear accident, the National Crisis Center activates the national nuclear and radiological emergency plan.