Preparatory construction begins for Pallas research reactor

05 May 2023

Work has begun to build the foundations for the Pallas research reactor in Petten, the Netherlands, which will replace the existing High Flux Reactor (HFR). However, the Dutch government has yet to make a final decision on constructing the reactor.

Work starts on the foundation for the Pallas reactor (Image: Pallas)

The Foundation Preparation Pallas-reactor applied in June 2022 to the Authority for Nuclear Safety and Radiation Protection (ANVS) for a permit to construct and operate the Pallas reactor. ANV granted a construction licence in mid-February this year.

To create the construction pit, a hole of about 50 metres by 50 metres and 21 metres deep will be dug in several phases. To do this, 1.5-metre-wide trenches are being dug into which concrete is then poured to create the so-called "diaphragm walls". The diaphragm walls are anchored with 380 bored piles placed within them, after which the soil is excavated and concrete is poured to keep the empty tank in place and later to form part of the foundation for the reactor.

This work is being carried out by Belgian construction firm BESIX, which was awarded a contract in November 2022.

The Foundation Preparation Pallas-reactor has now announced that the first concrete has been poured in the creation of the diaphragm walls.

"We are taking another major step towards building the new Pallas reactor," said Programme Director Peter Dijk. "Now that all the necessary permits are in force, we can continue with the realisation of the cofferdam in which the Pallas reactor will be built".

The work is expected to be completed by the end of 2024 and the cofferdam will be ready for the next phase, the actual construction of the reactor.

Although funding has been allocated in the coming years for the construction of the reactor, the Dutch government has yet to make a final decision on its construction.

Minister of Health, Welfare and Sport Ernst Kuipers has instructed the Pallas foundation not to take any irreversible steps, but to continue with the preparations for the project in the meantime to avoid unnecessary delays.

"This means that preparations for the realisation of the construction pit will continue pending a final financing decision from the Dutch government and approval for state aid from the European Commission," the Foundation Preparation Pallas-reactor noted.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News