Crack Issues for Second Belgian Reactor

Monday, September 17, 2012 @ 02:09 PM gHale


A second nuclear reactor in Belgium looks like it has cracks in its core tank, the nuclear regulator said.

Preliminary results of tests at Tihange 2, a reactor operated by GDF Suez unit Electrabel, showed there were indications of cracks on the core tank, Belgium’s nuclear regulator FANC said.

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The 1,008 megawatt reactor in the south of the country was to reopen from a scheduled shutdown in October, but officials will now dealay that opening until experts analyze the results.

Last month, Belgium shut down the 1,006 megawatt Doel 3 reactor near Antwerp after the discovery of suspected cracks in the core tank and that site will not reopen this year.

“We have found the same indications as we found at the Doel 3 power plant, and now we will analyze and constitute a file to hand over to the FANC,” said a spokeswoman for Electrabel.

This now means two out of Belgium’s seven nuclear reactors will be offline.

A report prepared for the Belgian government this year showed the country was at risk of electricity shortages if the three oldest reactors went off the grid as planned in 2015.

However, a spokeswoman for Melchior Wathelet, state secretary in charge of energy, said Belgium would still have enough energy even without the two reactors.

“When we heard about the defaults at Doel 3 and the potential defaults at Tihange 2 we conducted simulations … and that shows that there won’t be a problem of supply,” she said.

Belgium is trying to decrease its reliance on nuclear power, which accounted for 57 percent of its electricity in 2011.

In July, Belgium’s cabinet postponed the planned closure of one of its oldest nuclear reactors by a decade over concerns the country may not be able to generate enough alternative energy.

Defunct Dutch company Rotterdamsche Droogdok Maatschappij, which also constructed parts for nuclear plants throughout Europe and in the Americas, built the component in question.

Beyond Belgium, Rotterdamsche Droogdok was responsible for two units in Germany that are no longer operating, two in the Netherlands, two in Spain, one in Sweden, two in Switzerland, 10 in the United States and one in Argentina, the Paris-based Nuclear Energy Agency said.



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