Electrabel is disgusted with the media. Why? Because in the aftermath of the Brussels attacks, the electric utility thinks journalists have made too much of the alleged threat to the country’s nuclear infrastructure.
Hours after four attackers detonated explosives-laden belts and luggage in the Brussels airport and metro, reports began to surface that the Tihange and Doel nuclear power plants were being evacuated.
That would have been alarming enough on its own, but last month it emerged that when Belgian authorities raided a home in Auvelais last November in connection with the Paris attacks, investigators recovered hours of surveillance footage apparently recorded by terrorists at the home of a top nuclear official. There’s now some speculation that the Bakraoui brothers (two of the four Brussels bombers) were involved in covertly monitoring the official’s home.
Obviously, that suggests that the cell was (and probably still is) interested in either sabotaging a nuclear facility and/or obtaining radioactive material for the purposes of developing a dirty bomb. That’s not an attempt to sow panic, it’s simply the conclusion one comes to when told that terrorists were in possession of video tapes depicting the day-to-day routine of nuclear officials and their families.
Electrabel would later say the Tihange had actually not been “evacuated” per se. Rather, non essential personnel were told they could go home.
On Saturday, the utility became even more exasperated when Derniere Heure reported that a Tihange security guard had been shot in Charleroi and his access badge stolen. That report, Electrabel insists, is “false.”
Electrabel roept op de grootste voorzichtigheid met betrekking tot artikels die zaterdagochtend verschenen zijn https://t.co/2ux75SPlse— Electrabel (@Electrabel) March 26, 2016
Translation: "Electrabel calls the greatest caution with regard to articles that have appeared Saturday morning."
“Electrabel deplores that its sites are being used regularly this week to illustrate articles without any link to the company or its 5,000 workers," a statement reads. Hopefully the company doesn’t expect this “deplorable” state of affairs to improve any time soon because if you know anything about the history of Tihange and Doel (see here and here for more), you know why Belgians are worried.
“It’s like talcum powder,” Matthew Bunn, a specialist in nuclear security at Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government, told The New York Times, regarding byproducts of isotopes like Cesium-137. “If you made a dirty bomb out of it, it’s going to provoke fear, you would have to evacuate and you have to spend a lot of money cleaning it up; the economic destruction cost could be very high."
Yes, "it's going to provoke fear," much like running a story about how to survive a nuclear terrorist attack when the public is already at wit's end. But better safe than sorry we suppose and on that note, we present the following rather amusing piece from Belgian media which outlines how best to survive a nuclear disaster. Among the things you should do: grab the money and the iodine tablets. Among the things you should not do: help other people - until you're sure you're safe that is.
From HLN.be (translated)
It is clear from this morning that there is no link between the murdered guard and nuclear terror investigation. But the message has a lot of people have put thinking. What should you do if terrorists indeed endorse a nuclear power plant?
The government and the managers of nuclear sites work hard to keep safe nuclear plants and if there is an emergency, the operator will be as fast as possible to bring the situation under control at a technical level. The government will also make every effort to protect the population and the environment. But also as an individual you can protect yourself. The most important nuclear risk in our country are Doel and Tihange. The Study Centre for Nuclear Energy in Mol-Dessel and the National Institute for Radio Elements in Fleurus are risk zones.
To avoid exposure to radioactive material and to prevent exposure and contamination, hiding your best at a nuclear incident. Get to a central area of a building, close windows and doors and turn off ventilation. If possible, collect the most necessary (identity card, money ...). Also make sure first that you are safe. If possible, you can help other people, but bring your own safety is not compromised.
If you've got to safety, it is important not unnecessarily to call the emergency services, so not inhibited urgent care. Also make sure there is enough food and drink, warm clothes, blankets, flashlight ... make sure that you can at any time following the reports about the disaster.
In a nuclear accident could release radioactive iodine. It can enter the body through the respiratory tract or contaminated food. The thyroid iodine stores until she is satisfied with it and allows that way for irradiation from within. Through this ongoing radiation increases the risk of cancer and other diseases significantly. By saturating the thyroid with non-radioactive iodine in the tablets, you can prevent your body absorbs radioactive iodine. Iodine tablets do not offer protection against other radioactive substances are absorbed by the body. Against these substances can protect your best to take shelter in time. Take the tablets only when the government recommends it. The tablets provide protection for 24 hours.