6 Nov (NucNet): Belgium’s nuclear regulator has approved work to replace part of a leaking pipe in the emergency cooling water circuit that led to the shut-down of the Doel-1 nuclear power plant in April.
The Federal Agency for Nuclear Control (Fanc) said it had approved the work, together with its technical subsidiary Bel V, on 2 November and the pipe replacement has since begun.
The work follows the discovery of the Doel-1 leak by operator Engie-Electrabel in April. The reactor was shut down and a planned outage brought forward to repair the leak.
Inspections of similar pipes at Doel-2, which has also been shut down, have begun, Fanc said.
In September Fanc said Engie-Electrabel had removed the part of the pipe from Doel-1 and was carrying out analysis in a laboratory.
Doel-1 and Doel-2 are both 433-MW pressurised water reactor units. The other two units at the Doel site, Doel-3 and Doel-4, are different models of power reactor and were not affected by the problem.
In May 2018 Engie-Electrabel said the leak was “a few litres per minute”. However, it was in a difficult location for repairs and the company said at the time that Doel-1 was likely to be offline until 1 October 2018.
Fanc said the incident had been classified as Level 0 on the International Atomic Energy Agency’s International Nuclear and Radiological Event Scale. Level 0 on the seven-level scale means the incident was a “below scale” event of no safety significance.
Seven Belgian nuclear reactors produce around half of the country’s electricity – three at Tihange in Liege and four at Doel near Antwerp – but six of the seven are offline for maintenance. This has led to concerns in Belgium about the possibility of blackouts this winter should temperatures drop and demand outstrip the now limited electricity supply.
The status of Belgium’s seven reactors is: Tihange-1 offline for maintenance and refuelling, but approved for restart; Tihange-2, Tihange-3 and Doel-4 offline due to concrete degradation issues; Doel-1 and Doel-2 offline due to discovery of leak at Doel-1; Doel-3 online.