Nuclear: Belgium closes a reactor from Doel power station

The operator Engie will stop on Friday evening one of the four reactors on this site located in the port of Antwerp. This is the first step in the country towards the exit of nuclear.

Le Monde with AFP

The operator Engie will stop on Friday, September 23, around 9 p.m. on Friday, September 23, one of the four reactors of the Doel nuclear power plant, located in the port of Antwerp (North) on the Scheldt. He could produce alone up to 10 % of the country’s electricity.

The disconnection of the Doel 3 reactor, aged 40, has been prepared for a long time. It is part of the Belgian nuclear release plan approved in 2003 which originally provided for the 2025 stop of the seven reactors which ensure around half of the country’s needs.

Approaching deadlines, doubt seems to win the federal government which is divided on the issue while the increase in energy costs puts to the test of households and businesses. In March, he had already difficult to agree to extend two of the seven nuclear reactors until 2036. For the future, Belgium does not close the door to new generation nuclear.

The Minister of the Interior, Annelies Verlinden (Flemish Christian Democrat), rekindled tensions last week by asking the Belgian nuclear security authority (AFCN) if it would be possible to postpone the operation of Doel 3 dismantling in case a reactor revival was envisaged later.

The vice-premier ecologist minister, Petra de Sutter, said he was “shocked” by this questioning of the calendar “a few days before the cessation of operations”.

“No technically irreversible operation”

“The reactor will be put up definitively and is therefore not intended to restart,” said Engie spokesperson for his part, who pointed out that he had received No request from the government in this sense. For its part, the AFCN responded to M me a verty one that a “very late” decision of the reactor extension was “not a sign of good governance” and that it could not ” not guarantee that a late and unprepared scenario has no risk for nuclear security “.

of pronuclearians had to demonstrate in Doel in the morning to demand the maintenance of the “operating state” reactor. In theory, a reactor relaunch would not be impossible. After the stop on Friday evening, the preparatory work will last approximately five years before the dismantling of the reactor. “No technically irreversible operation occurs during this first phase,” said the director of the power plant, Peter Moens. But he estimated that a postponement or a reversal of the process would be “neither wise nor advised” for technical and operational reasons, citing in particular the lack of fuel and staff.

The Belgian debate echoes that of Germany where conservative and liberal political leaders claim to extend the country’s last three nuclear reactors beyond the end of 2022, the date of their scheduled judgment. For the moment, Berlin has simply agreed to maintain two reactors in standby until the spring of 2023 to cope with possible emergencies.

In Belgium, the manager of the Elia electricity transport network indicated that he does not expect risks in terms of supply linked to this “judgment which was planned”. “We have enough production capacity available to meet demand,” a spokesperson told AFP.

Greenpeace says that “the closure of Doel 3 poses no problem for supply security and has no significant impact on the price of electricity”.

The rise of renewable, solar and wind energies, including offshore, allowed the country to reach record exports in 2021. The gas power plants represented a quarter of the energy mix.

/Media reports.