Electrabel cleared for restart of Doel 2

28 January 2019

Belgium's regulatory body, the Federal Agency for Nuclear Control (FANC), has approved the restart of unit 2 of the Doel plant following repairs to a corroded pipeline in a safety cooling water circuit. Repairs to the same pipeline in Doel 1 continue.

Doel units 1 and 2 (Image: Electrabel)

A leak in the pipeline in unit 1 was detected in April 2018 and similar degradation was subsequently found at unit 2. However, FANC said the degradation at Doel 2 was "less advanced" than at unit 1. The regulator said the cause of the issue must be known before the units would be allowed to restart. Analyses have shown the degradation of the pipes was caused by material fatigue.

At the end of November, plant operator Engie Electrabel replaced the cooling water pipeline of Doel 2, following approval by FANC.

All preventive work, inspections and analyses at Doel 2 have been completed and the results of this work have been summarised in a comprehensive safety file that has been approved by FANC.

Teams are carrying out the last checks before Doel 2 is restarted and Electrabel said it expects the unit to be reconnected to the grid on 4 February. In the first few days and weeks, the renewed systems will continue to be tested intensively under real operating conditions, the utility said.

Repairs at Doel 1 are still in progress, FANC noted. The restart of that reactor is currently scheduled for 15 March.

"With the restart of Doel 2 reactor this winter (together with the output of the Doel 3, Doel 4, Tihange 1 and Tihange 3 reactors) a total of 4400 MWe of local carbon-free nuclear capacity will be available," Electrabel noted.

Electrabel is investing EUR700 million (USD800 million) in a lifetime extension programme at Doel 1 and 2 - 433 MWe pressurised water reactors that have been in operation since the mid-1970s. The programme includes the complete renewal of certain control systems.

In September, Electrabel announced that scheduled outages at Tihange 2 and 3 had been further extended while concrete degradation issues in adjacent non-nuclear buildings are addressed. Tihange 2 is now expected to restart on 1 June 2019, and not on 31 October 2018 as previously planned. Tihange 3 had been expected to restart on 2 March 2019 instead of 30 September, but was restarted in early January.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News