Doel 4 shuts down after worker action

11 August 2014

FIRST PUBLISHED: 11 August 2014
UPDATE 1: 12 August 2014 Removed incorrect statement that plant staff manually shut the plant on noticing low lubricant level. The plant actually shut down automatically. Added that valve was undamaged and the public prosecutor is involved.

Belgian nuclear safety regulators think it was probably deliberate action by a worker that caused lubricant to be lost from Doel 4's steam turbine system. The plant shut down automatically.

Doel 4 is a 1039 MWe pressurized water reactor, owned and operated by Electrabel in northern Belgium. Workers followed procedures to take it offline on 5 August when they observed that the level of oil lubricant in the steam turbine had been dropping. Inspections then found that the lubricant had been discharging through a valve which had probably been left open by a worker. The valve had not been damaged in any way, Electrabel told World Nuclear News.

The Federaal Agentschap voor Nucleaire Controle (Federal Agency for Nuclear Control, FANC) called it "probably... voluntary manual intervention" and added that the incident had no impact on the safety of workers or the public. FANC said it would investigate to "reveal the precise circumstances behind this event" and it is working with the Public Prosecutor of Dendermonde municipality. 

Electrabel said it is investigating "the extent of the steam turbine damage" and determining what must be done to restart Doel 4 as soon as possible. The company said it would "evaluate with the authorities all follow-up actions."

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News