EUROPE

Belgium shuts down nuclear reactor for first time

Doel 3 nuclear reactor operated for 40 years, providing 1,006 megawatt-hours of power

H. J. I. / AA

People gather to against the shutdown of the Doel 3 reactor in Brussels, Belgium on September 23, 2022.

Foto: AA


The Doel 3 reactor in operation in Belgium for 40 years will be shut down on Friday in compliance with Belgian law on a nuclear phase-out.

Despite the energy crisis in Europe, the nuclear reactor in the town of Doel, north of the port city of Antwerp, will close on Friday. This is the first time a nuclear reactor will be permanently shut down in Belgium.

The Doel 3 reactor, one of four reactors of the Doel Nuclear Power Plant, will disconnect from the grid at 21.15 local time due to the nuclear phase-out law enforced by past governments.

The 1,006 megawatt-hours capacitated reactor was built in 1978, was grid connected in 1982, and operated for 40 years. In 2012, capillary cracks in the reactor pressure system were detected resulting in its closure for maintenance for two years.

Belgium hosts a total of seven reactors, four of which are at the Doel Nuclear Power Plant close to the Dutch border, while three are located at the Tihange Nuclear Power Plant, close to the Germany and Luxembourg border.

The electricity produced by these reactors meets about half of the country's needs.

Belgium extends life of two reactors by ten years

After the Russia-Ukraine war, Belgium decided to extend the operation period of the Doel 4 and Tihange 3 reactors by 10 years to avoid energy supply shortages. The reactors were previously planned to close in 2025.

Decisions taken by previous governments prescribed that the Doel 3 and the Tihange 2 reactors would shut down in September and February next year, respectively.

With the looming energy crisis, however, the current government started to work on extending the operation period of these reactors. Negotiations between the operators and the government concluded that it was not technically and legally possible to postpone the Doel 3 shutdown process at this stage.

Nuclear support protest

Meanwhile, a protest with about 100 people took place against the closure of the Doel 3 reactor.

The demonstrators hung a large banner with the words "Why are you closing a nuclear power plant amid the energy and climate crisis?"

Wearing clothes that read "Stop the nuclear exit", the protesters highlighted the need to extend the operation time of the reactor amid energy shortages.

- We are here today for Doel 3, the first reactor in Belgium to be completely decommissioned and shut down - a protester named Emrick said.

Stressing their support for nuclear energy, the demonstrator said the government should change its nuclear phase-out plan and keep the Doel 3 reactor operational.

The demonstrator also emphasized that Belgium needs every megawatt-hour of electricity it produces in its territory over such a challenging period.

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