Belgian nuclear reactor shut down for safety controls
A reactor at one of Belgium's two nuclear power plants will remain shut "at least" until the end of the month to allow checks for potential cracks in its core tank, authorities said Thursday, reported dpa.
The 1,003-megawatt Doel 3 reactor, which has been in service since 1982, has been offline since service checks in June. Those checks employed a new ultrasound technology, Belgium's Federal Agency for nuclear control (AFCN/FANC) said on its website.
Inspectors found "several indications of defects" in the steel base of the core tank, AFCN/FANC said, adding that additional checks, started on July 16, are ongoing.
The Doel plant is situated on the outskirts of Antwerp in Flanders, the Dutch-speaking part of Belgium.
The agency insisted that there was "no danger for the population, workers or the environment" since the reactor has been emptied of its nuclear fuel.
Since there are 21 other reactors in the world of the same type as the Dutch-manufactured Doel 3 - including another one at the other Belgian nuclear plant of Tihange - AFCN/FANC said it alerted other national safety watchdogs about the problem.
However, a spokeswoman for the agency, Karina De Beule, could not confirm a report by French newspaper Le Monde that 10 reactors were in the United States, two each in Germany, the Netherlands, Spain and Switzerland, and one each in Sweden and Argentina.
"Since the manufacturer no longer exist, we do not know who its clients were," she told dpa.
Last month the Belgian government adopted a nuclear phaseout plan that foresaw the shutting down of Doel 3 in 2022 and the complete abandonment of nuclear energy by 2025.
But if Doel 3 were to fail its tests, it would not be allowed to enter into service again. Authorities would then likely have to amend their phase-out plans to make up for the loss of capacity. dpa eb alv ncs Author: Alvise Armellini