Biggest and most complex clean-up in Belgium ever

FBFC in Dessel was a plant that produced fuel elements for nuclear power plants. It was one of the largest of its kind in Europe, but nevertheless closed its doors in 2012. The decommissioning of FBFC was very important for the safety of the environment and public health in the region. Indeed, 50 years of nuclear production left its mark. It became one of the largest and most complex remediation projects ever in Belgium, and extra challenging due to the combination of contamination with limited information about the exact what and where, plus contamination in the surrounding area from years of wastewater discharge. Mourik was and is the only one able to solve all that with its own people and equipment. In 2015, the starting signal sounded.

Denuclearisation, asbestos removal, demolition and dismantling

The first step was to map the contamination in the buildings. To get a clear picture, we measured tens of thousands of square metres. We then scoured and removed floors, walls, columns, beams and ceilings where necessary to remove contamination. The removal of all contamination was regular pioneering work in which our engineers played an important role. The next step was asbestos removal, precision cleaning and the controlled demolition and dismantling of the various buildings on the site. This was one of the most eye-catching facets of the whole project. Had it been an ordinary building, the demolition and dismantling would not have taken more than six months. In this case, with all the specific complexities, protocols and safety measures, it took us six years, divided into several phases to reduce contamination risks. We measured, sorted, packed and safely disposed of all contaminated soil (40,000 tonnes), more than 10,000 tonnes of rubble and (nuclear) waste.

Ex-situ soil remediation and reconstruction

The contamination was not limited to the factory site. FBFC's wastewater had been discharged through the sewers and canals around the site for years. After mapping the contamination, we excavated the contaminated soil over about one and a half kilometres of canal and associated objects such as sewers and headwalls. We treated the resulting 20,000 tonnes of soil at FBFC's site in a custom-built treatment plant. Finally, around the site, we reconstructed the roads, cycle paths, headwalls and canals.


This was a unique work in terms of scope, complexity and, of course, safety. No party had done anything like this before. For Mourik, too, it was the first time we had tackled nuclear contamination on this scale. But of course, at that time we already had a lot of experience with asbestos removal and were therefore used to the strict protocols and safety requirements involved. We also had and have all the other specialisms that were requested in-house, including environmental services, groundwater & soil remediation, demolition & dismantling, cleaning and waste management. Even today, we are the only ones who can fill all these disciplines with our own people. So Mourik has the knowledge, experience and mentality (safety!) for justifiably the most demanding work.



Eddy Verresen

Eddy Verresen

Lead Project Manager Asbestos Removal
Mourik n.v. Groenendaallaan 399, B-2030 Antwerpen

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