Doel Nuclear Power Station
|Doel Nuclear Power Station|
Location of Doel Nuclear Power Station in Belgium
|Commission date||15 February 1975|
|Nuclear power station|
|Reactor type||pressurized water reactors|
|Reactor supplier||ACECOWEN, FRAMACECO|
|Units operational||2 x 433 MW
1 x 1006 MW
1 x 1047 MW
|Nameplate capacity||2,919 MW|
|Average generation||21,670 GWh|
The Doel Nuclear Power Station is one of the two nuclear power plants in Belgium. The plant is located on the bank of the Scheldt, near the village of Doel in the Flemish province of East Flanders. The Belgian energy corporation Electrabel is the plant's largest stakeholder. The plant employs 800 workers and covers an area of 80 hectares (200 acres).
The station is located in the most densely populated area of all nuclear power stations in Europe, with 9 million inhabitants within a radius of 75 kilometres (47 mi).
The plant consists of four second-generation pressurized water reactors with a total capacity of 2,919 MWe, making it the second largest nuclear power plant in Belgium, after Nuclear Plant Tihange. Its four units are rated as follows:
- Doel 1 : 433 MWe
- Doel 2 : 433 MWe
- Doel 3 : 1006 MWe
- Doel 4 : 1047 MWe
Doel 1 and 2 came online in 1975, while Doel 3 and 4 came online in 1982 and 1985, respectively.
Doel 1, 2, and 4 reactors are based on designs by Westinghouse and were supplied by ACECOWEN, a consortium between ACEC, Cockerill, and Westinghouse. The Doel 3 reactor is based on a design by Framatome and was supplied by the FRAMACECO consortium (Framatome-ACEC-Cockerill).
Doel 1 and 2 had a license to operate for 40 years but can operate for a further 10 years with a life extension approved by the regulator. On 15 February 2015, Doel 1 was shut down after 40 years of operation, while discussions continued on a life extension. On 30 November 2015, the Belgian government announced that Doel 1 and 2 will operate for another 10 years, until 2025. They were both successfully restarted during the final week of 2015.
No relief filters present
By answering a question of die Grünen in the Bundestag, the German parliament, the German government replied that the Belgian nuclear power plants do not have filtered containment venting systems installed. In German nuclear reactors these were already built in after the nuclear disaster in Chernobyl in 1986, other countries followed this example, latest after the Fukushima nuclear disaster. This kind of system allows for the containment pressure to be relieved in the event of a severe accident. The non-condensible gases that cause the pressure within containment to rise are released through a stack (or chimney) via a filtration system which removes large quantities of fission products from the effluent. According to the German Government, the nuclear reactors in Tihange are missing these emergency pressure filters too. This news caused quite some unrest in the national and local press around these nuclear reactors.
With a height of 176 meters, the two cooling towers are the most visible structure in the Port of Antwerp. Due to its proximity to the Dutch-Belgian border, the towers and the accompanying vapor can be seen in large parts of Dutch provinces of Zeeland and western North Brabant. Since 1995, one of the cooling towers has hosted a nest of peregrine falcons.
2012 Doel 3 inspection
Doel 3 was shut down at the beginning of June 2012 for a planned inspection. The ultrasonic inspection revealed that there were thousands of semi laminar flaws in the reactor vessel's steel rings forged by Rotterdam Drydocks. These were determined to be hydrogen flakes, which influence steel brittleness and vessel pressure. The reactor remained offline for further inspections and assessment for a year. Eventually the nuclear regulator judged that the reactor could still operate safely and it was restarted June 3, 2013. The restart, however, was linked to an action plan concerning further investigations of the material properties of the reactor vessel. At the end of March 2014 the test results revealed a different outcome compared to what was anticipated by experts. At the moment no proper clarification for this outcome has been found. Therefore, the operator (GDF Suez) decided to stop the affected power plant until a clarification can be found and further operation of the powerplant is declared safe.
2014 Doel 4 turbine incident
In August 2014 there was a major incident in the non-nuclear part of the plant: the main turbine overheated when it suddenly found itself operating without oil. Rather than a leak it turned out that a valve was opened which rapidly evacuated the 65,000 liters of oil to an underground storage tank. This procedure is to be used in case of fire and is normally secured with a padlock. Hence authorities and the plant operator suspect that this was an act of deliberate sabotage. The unit was eventually back on the grid at 19 December 2014. Combined with the outage of Doel 3 and Tihange 2 blackouts were not ruled out for the winter period of 2014-2015.
April 2016 Doel 1 shut down
On 13 April 2016 Doel 1 was shut down until the end of May for repairs. After a problem was found with a valve of a temperature gauge. Additional tests were planned to look at the power control, to decide what other repairs might be needed. On 12 April the German minister of environment Barbara Hendricks asked whether the reactors Tihange 2 and Doel 3 could be shut down "until questions about safety have been clarified." The Federal Agency nuclear control FANC was not willing to respond to this German wishes. In fact, the supervisor declared the call a 'weird' move, because the decision to restart Doel 3 was taken november 2015. Germany was informed. Nele Scheerlinck: "Germany abuses this issue in the public debate. On the technical level, we do not feel addressed." 
In December 2015, police found that a camera had been set up outside the house of a SCK•CEN nuclear researcher to track their movements, raising fears of extortion of nuclear industry workers. Seven people had their access to the Doel facility revoked after the 2016 Brussels police raids in March 2016, and during the 2016 Brussels bombings, the Doel facility was evacuated, along with the Tihange Nuclear Power Station.
On 25 March 2016, a G4S security guard for the National Institute of Radio-elements (IRE) in Fleurus died in a shooting when he walked with his dog in Charleroi. His security cards were stolen. The cards, which give access to nuclear sites in Belgium, were deactivated shortly after the killing was discovered. Belgium denied that the guard's death was terror related. A few days later it appeared the rumors were false: the guard didn't work for the nuclear sector and thus no access badge was stolen.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Nuclear power plant, Doel.|
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