Belgium permanently shuts down reactor Doel 3 near Antwerp

Belgium permanently shuts down reactor Doel 3 near Antwerp


Nuclear power
Belgium permanently shuts down reactor Doel 3 near Antwerp

Steam rises from the cooling towers of the Doel nuclear power plant near Antwerp. photo

© Oliver Berg/dpa

The Doel 3 reactor was the first reactor in Belgium to go offline as planned. Against the background of the Ukraine war, the government wants to keep other reactors running until 2035.

As part of its planned nuclear phase-out, Belgium has taken a first reactor off the grid. The Doel 3 kiln near the city of Antwerp was shut down, a spokeswoman for the operator Engie confirmed.

There are three other reactors in the nuclear power plant. The state also operates three reactors in the Tihange nuclear power plant, which is about 60 kilometers from Aachen in North Rhine-Westphalia.

The original plan was to take all Belgian nuclear power plants offline by 2025. Against the background of the Ukraine war and the increased energy prices, the government now wants to keep the Tihange 3 and Doel 4 reactors running until at least the end of 2035 in order to ensure energy security – but this has not yet been formally decided. Last year, around half of Belgium’s electricity production came from nuclear power.

In Germany there has long been criticism of the Belgian power plants from the 1970s and 80s. Several defects were found in the reactors in the neighboring country, such as dilapidated concrete parts. The city of Aachen and the federal government have therefore repeatedly called for the nuclear power plants to be shut down in the past.

Doel 3 repeatedly made headlines

The Doel 3 pressurized water reactor, which has now been shut down, repeatedly made the headlines with problems. Ten years ago, inspectors found hairline cracks in the reactor vessel, which prompted the reactor to be shut down twice for a longer period of time. However, the Belgian nuclear supervisory authority rated the reactor as safe. The Doel power plant is on the Dutch border on the Scheldt, less than 120 kilometers from the German border as the crow flies. Reactor block 3 was connected to the grid in 1982 and had an output of 1006 megawatts.

According to the Belgian nuclear phase-out schedule, the identical Tihange 2 reactor, which was also affected by fine cracks in the pressure vessel, is to be taken off the grid at the beginning of next year. After that, the next shutdowns are not planned until 2025.

dpa

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