Belgium Shuts Down Doel-3 And Tihange-2 After Unexpected RPV Test Results

Thursday, March 27, 2014

26 Mar (NucNet): The Doel-3 and Tihange-2 nuclear reactor units in Belgium were shut down today after tests related to the reactor pressure vessels (RPVs) showed “unexpected results”, Electrabel, a subsidiary of French energy company GDF Suez and operator of the stations, said.

Tests carried out at Belgium’s nuclear research reactor BR-2 in Mol consisted of accelerated irradiation of a test block with the same composition and properties as the Doel-3 and Tihange-2 RPVs.

According to Electrabel, the tests produced “unexpected results” regarding the mechanical resistance of the material.

Electrabel said it decided to stop operations at both units today as a precaution and to run further tests.

The results of the tests are expected on 15 June 2014 and the reactors will not be restarted before that, Electrabel said.

Belgium’s nuclear regulator, the Federal Agency for Nuclear Control (FANC), will examine the results together with Electrabel and will have to give permission for the units to be restarted.

Doel-3 was scheduled to be shut down for maintenance on 26 April and Tihange-2 on 31 May.

Both units were shut down in 2012 after flaws were discovered on their RPVs.

In June 2013, FANC said the units could be safely restarted, but imposed conditions for further testing of the RPVs.

Doel-3 is scheduled to be decommissioned in 2022 and Belgium plans to close all its nuclear reactors by 2025.

There are seven reactor units in commercial operation in Belgium, four at Doel and three at Tihange. Together, they generate about 55 percent of the country’s electricity.

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