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Friday, December 21, 2012

Electrabel / GDF Suez submit restart plan for Doel 3, Tihange 2

Some time back, there was a great deal of attention paid to the finding of flaws in the reactor vessel at Belgium's Doel Unit 3.  Click here to see my ANS Nuclear Cafe article on the subject from August 2012.  Now, Electrabel (the plant's owner-operator) has released a report and a plan for restart has been sent to the Belgian regulator, FANC, who itself plans to release its final report in the middle of January, 2013.  Electrabel's findings are not unexpected; official press release from December 6 is below.
Electrabel, Group GDF SUEZ, submit conclusions for restart of Doel 3 and Tihange 2

Over the last few months Electrabel has carried out an in-depth investigation in response to the indications found in the reactor vessels of Doel 3 and Tihange 2. On Wednesday, Electrabel submitted its conclusions and action plan for restarting both units, to the Federal Agency for Nuclear Control (FANC). Electrabel already submitted the technical dossier on Friday 30 November.

The voluminous technical dossier was executed by a multidisciplinary team, assisted by national and international experts and academics. Based on an examination of construction records, ultra-sound inspections, several tests of the materials employed, and calculations on fracture mechanics, the report reached the following conclusions:
  • The construction of the power plants was in accordance with international norms and standards;
  • The initial hypothesis of hydrogen flaking that are stable and that were formed during the forging process, was confirmed;
  • Tests on more than 400 samples, performed by different laboratories, show that the metal of the reactor vessels is sound, with properties that meet the required standards.
The technical report and the engineering and calculations demonstrate that the vessels’ structural integrity meets, within significant margins, all safety criteria for each of the detected indications. The investigations and calculations carried out were subjected to a stringent control procedure that was validated by outside experts.

In conclusion, the results confirm the structural integrity of the reactors in question, justifying the immediate restart and safe operation of Doel 3 and Tihange 2.

Electrabel also submitted an action plan that sets out certain additional safety measures it is taking to prepare for restarting the reactors, plus some additional short and medium term measures.

It is now up to the FANC to provide its advice to the Belgian government. Electrabel is available to the FANC and its experts to answer any questions they may have on contents of the report.


Updates 1:00 PM 12/21 -

-FANC acknowledges receipt of the dossiers from Electrabel / GDF Suez, and a press release by FANC promises completion of review and release of findings in mid January 2013.  At that time, according to FANC, the decision to dismantle or to restart the two reactors will be made.

-To see an interesting October 2012 FANC backgrounder on this issue in English, click here.

12:10 PM Eastern 12/21/2012

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