22.12.2015_No252 / News in Brief

Belgium Restarts Doel-3 After Long-Term RPV Safety Shutdown

Plant Operation

22 Dec (NucNet): The Doel-3 nuclear reactor unit operated by Electrabel in Belgium has been restarted, parent company Engie said yesterday, ending a shutdown that began in March 2014 after unexpected results from tests carried out on the structural integrity of its reactor pressure vessel.

The Doel nuclear station in Belgium.

The restart of the 1,006-MW pressurised water reactor unit at 04:00 local time had been postponed from last week because of issues related to planning and not because of any abnormality with the plant, Electrabel had said.

Doel-3 was originally taken offline in 2012, along with Tihange-2, because of uncertainties over the structural integrity of their RPVs.

In June 2013 the units were restarted, but were shut down again in March 2014 after unexpected results from additional tests. Last month Belgium’s regulator authorised the restart of both Tihange-2 and Doel-3 based on satisfactory results from structural assessments. Tihange-2, a 1,008-MW PWR, was restarted last week.

An operating schedule published by Electrabel also shows that the Doel-1 and Doel-2 nuclear units are scheduled to restart on 24 December and 19 December respectively.

Doel-1 was shut down in February 2015 when it reached the end of its 40-year operating life and Doel-2 has been in a maintenance outage since October 2015.

Both units have had their commercial operating licences extended by 10 years until 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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David Dalton

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