Belgium Halts Nuclear Plant

Wednesday, August 22, 2012 @ 02:08 PM gHale

A nuclear power plant in Belgium must suspend operations until it can assure officials its containment vessel is intact and developed no cracks.

The No.3 reactor at the Doel nuclear power plant, located about 20 kilometers north of Antwerp must shut down by the end of this month, according to the Federal Agency for Nuclear Control (FANC).

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The country’s nuclear regulator issued the suspension order after official found anomalies, including possible cracks, during annual maintenance work that began in June.

Local media report a Dutch firm that went bankrupt 40 years ago built the containment vessel at the Doel reactor. Another nuclear plant in Belgium uses the same type of vessel. Nuclear plants in the United States, Germany and Spain also use the Dutch-built reactors, according to an industry expert.

FANC has invited experts from countries using such type of vessel to an emergency meeting to discuss the issue. Belgium depends on nuclear plants for more than half of the country’s power supply. But it has decided to scrap all atomic plants by 2025.

People in Europe are increasingly skeptical about the safety of nuclear power plants after the accident in Japan’s Fukushima Dai-ichi plant in March last year.

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