First Belgian nuclear reactor finally shut down

In Belgium, nuclear reactor Doel 3, near Antwerp, has been permanently shut down. It is the first of the seven Belgian nuclear reactors to finally pull the plug.

At 21.31, the reactor was removed from the power grid, the VRT reports. This was done after years of preparation: as early as 2003, the Belgian government decided to phase out the use of nuclear energy, but the timetable for the closure of the seven reactors changed regularly.

Doel 3 had been in operation since 1982 and was one of four reactors of a nuclear power plant Park on the banks of the Scheldt. There are also three reactors in Tihange, in the province of Liège.

It will be years before the demolition of the building can begin. First, the reactor is opened and the fuel rods are taken to a kind of bunker to cool under water there for five years. Only then does the actual dismantling of the reactor begin. It is not expected to be completed until 2040.

Doel 3 was popularly known as ‘crack reactor’. Due to abnormalities in the reactor vessel, the reactor was idle for several years after 2012 and later concrete wear was also detected.

However, according to the leadership of the target nuclear power plant, there have been no significant problems in recent times. “We shot 365 days in succession,” says director Peter Moens to the VRT. “Very few plants in the world do that.”

The next nuclear reactor that the Belgian government wants to close is Tihange 2. That should happen early next year.

The remaining reactors must be closed by 2025, with the exception of Tihange 3 and Doel 4. Due to the energy crisis, the government decided in March that the two reactors would remain open for ten years longer.

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