Definitive closure of the first Belgian nuclear reactor

EPA

News from the NOStoday, 02:07

In Belgium, the Doel 3 nuclear reactor near Antwerp has been closed for good. It is the first of seven Belgian nuclear reactors that will eventually be retired.

At 21:31 the reactor was disconnected from the electricity grid, reports the VRT. This happened after years of preparation: the Belgian government had already decided in 2003 to phase out the use of nuclear energy, but the timing for the closure of the seven reactors changed regularly.

Not ready until 2040

The Doel 3 had been in use since 1982 and was one of four reactors in a nuclear power plant park on the banks of the Schelde. There are also three reactors in Tihange, in the province of Liège.

It will take years before the demolition of the building begins. First, the reactor is opened and the fuel rods are taken to a kind of bunker to cool them under water for five years. Only then does the actual decommissioning of the reactor begin. It should be completed by 2040.

‘Crack reactor’

Doel 3 was popularly known as a “crack reactor”. Due to deviations in the reactor vessel, the reactor was shut down for several years after 2012 and wear of the concrete was also observed thereafter.

According to the management of the Doel nuclear power plant, however, there have been no major problems in recent times. “We ran non-stop 365 days straight,” director Peter Moens told VRT. “Very few power plants in the world do this.”

Open for ten more years

The next nuclear reactor that the Belgian government wants to shut down is Tihange 2. This is expected to happen early next year.

The other reactors must be closed by 2025, with the exception of Tihange 3 and Doel 4. Due to the energy crisis, the government has decided in March that those two reactors will remain open for ten more years.

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