Regulator OKs Belgian reactor restart

17 May 2013

Belgian reactor operator Electrabel is preparing to restart units at Tihange and Doel after national nuclear regulators confirmed that crack-like indications discovered in the reactors' pressure vessels are of no safety significance.

Doel (Electrabel)
Electrabel's Doel plant

Doel 3 and Tihange 2 have been offline since the summer of 2012 when ultrasound testing suggested the possible presence of cracks. Further investigations by Electrabel indicated that the defects are so-called hydrogen "flakes" and were introduced during the manufacturing process.

Earlier this year, Belgium's Federal Agency for Nuclear Control (FANC) set out a list of 16 requirements including testing and investigations, with eleven to be met before the units could restart, plus five post-restart requirements. Electrabel accordingly submitted an action plan to the regulator.

Now, FANC has confirmed the all of the pre-restart requirements have been met and the units can safely be restarted.

Electrabel noted that the reports it had submitted to the regulator confirmed the conclusions that the defects had been introduced during the forging process, were stable, and did not affect the structural integrity of the vessels.

The utility says that it will begin to work towards the restart of the units immediately, although it anticipates that it will take two to threeweeks before the restart is achieved. Regulators will monitor the restart operations, and inspections of the reactors' pressure vessels have already been scheduled into their next planned refuelling outage.

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News