Tihange Nuclear Power Station

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Tihange Nuclear Power Station
Huy, koeltorens 2007-05-01 14.57.JPG
Tihange Nuclear Power Station is located in Belgium
Tihange Nuclear Power Station
Location of Tihange Nuclear Power Station in Belgium
Country Belgium
Location Huy
Coordinates 50°32′4.66″N 5°16′21.12″E / 50.5346278°N 5.2725333°E / 50.5346278; 5.2725333Coordinates: 50°32′4.66″N 5°16′21.12″E / 50.5346278°N 5.2725333°E / 50.5346278; 5.2725333
Construction began 1970
Commission date 1 October 1975
Owner(s) Electrabel
Nuclear power station
Reactor type pressurized water reactors
Power generation
Units operational 1 × 962 MW
1 × 1,008 MW
1 × 1,015 MW
Nameplate capacity 2,985 MW
Average generation 23 TWh
The plant seen from Ampsin (fr) station
Tihange nuclear power plant seen from the fortress of Huy

The Tihange Nuclear Power Station is one of the two large-scale nuclear power plants in Belgium, the other being Doel Nuclear Power Station. It is located on the right bank of the Meuse River in the Belgian district of Tihange, part of Huy municipality in the Walloon province of Liège. The primary stakeholder in the plant is the Belgian energy company Electrabel.


The plant has three pressurized water reactors, with a total capacity of 2985 MWe and makes up 52% of the total Belgian nuclear generating capacity.[1] Its units are rated as follows:

  • Tihange 1: 962 MWe (1975)
  • Tihange 2: 1008 MWe (1983)
  • Tihange 3: 1015 MWe (1985)

The reactors were supplied by different consortia, respectively ACLF (ACECOWEN-Creusot-Loire-Framatome), FRAMACECO (Framatome-ACEC-Cockerill), ACECOWEN (ACEC-Cockerill-Westinghouse).[2]

The units were designed for an operational lifetime of 30 years. In 2003, a Belgian law concerning the closure of the Belgian nuclear reactors permitted an operational lifetime of 40 years for the three reactors in Tihange. On July 4, 2012, however, the Belgian government decided that Tihange 1 could be operated until 2025.

No filters present in the high pressure valves of the reactor vessels[edit]

In answer to questions of the Greens in the Bundestag, the German parliament, the German government replied that in all outdated Belgian nuclear power plants no filtered pressure relief valves were installed. In German nuclear reactors these were already built in after the nuclear disaster in Chernobyl in 1986; other countries followed this example around or after 2011, after the Fukushima nuclear disaster. This kind of filter should prevent radioactive air from leaving the pressure vessel unfiltered. According to the German Government, the nuclear reactors of the Doel Nuclear Power Station are missing these emergency pressure filters also.[3] This news caused alarm in the national and local press around these nuclear reactors.[4][5][6][7][8]


On November 22, 2002, an incident occurred in Block 2 (INES 2). The reactor was shut down at this time and no longer critical. However it remained necessary for decay heat to be removed from the reactor by circulating coolant. The November 22 incident involved accidental opening of a pressure relief valve. This caused the high pressure primary coolant circuit to rapidly depressurize, therefore reducing the ability of the circuit to remove heat from the reactor (the high pressure prevents the coolant - water - from boiling), leading to possible reactor overheating and eventual meltdown. The pressure relief valve was closed again after three minutes.

On September 3, 2008 a malfunctioning fan was found in a reactor. This was classified as INES-1.[9] Also, in 2005 and 2002 there were two INES-2 incidents. And in 2001 and 1993 there were fires on the site of the nuclear power plant. Those were classified as level 0.[10]

Since 2006 there has been a leak of 0.5-2 liters per day of mildly radioactive water from a deactivation-bath.[11] After this was notified to the Belgium Federal Agency for Nuclear Control (FANC) (nl) Electrabel tried to find the cause of the leak. But on 11 July 2012 it became apparent that the leakage still exists. According to FANC this issue is "under control" and no radioactivity leaks outside the buildings.[12]

September 1, 2012, it became known that the Tihange 2 reactor shows signs of erosion weakening of the outer reinforced concrete mantle up to a depth of 0.3 m. Electrabel and the Belgian nuclear regulator FANC deny any immediate security risk since the reactor was already shut down for maintenance.[13]

February 23, 2015, Dutch newspaper reports on thousands of cracks well up to 6 cm according to Federaal Agentschap voor Nucleaire Controle (FANC).[14] Actual discussion still assumes the reactor to be turned on in July again. This did not happen, and in September 2015 the unit is still offline pending further investigation.

On 10 June 2016 Tihange 2 was shut down automatically. The cause was discovered a day later: a defect of an electro-motor attached to a turbine in the non-nuclear part of the reactor. It was expected, that the reactor could be restarted at Wednesday 15 June.[15][16]

On 7 September 2016 Tihange 1 was shut down, because one building of the plant had been damaged during construction works. Two days later, Tihange 2 was also shut down because a failure occurred in the steam generator in the "non-nuclear" part of the plant. It is not known how long the repair will take. Tihange 1 was expected to be taken into service again on 11 September 2016. [17]


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.[18][19] Seven people had their access to the Tihange and Doel facilities revoked after the 2016 Brussels police raids in March 2016,[20] and during the 2016 Brussels bombings, the Tihange and Doel Nuclear Power Station facilities evacuated non-essential personnel.[21]

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.[22][23] His security cards were stolen.[24][25][26] The cards, which give access to nuclear sites in Belgium, were deactivated shortly after the killing was discovered.[27][28] Belgium denied that the guard's death was terror related.[29]

On 26 May 2016 it proofed that the system to measure the pressure inside the cooling-circuit did not function. When unexpected pressure fluctuations occur it might be needed to halt the whole nuclear power station. This was scaled as INES-1 incident. It was called an "irregularity". Four days later on 30 May it was discovered that a measuring station for radioactivity in the control room of Tihange 3 had been in "testmode" for days and as a consequence did not work at all. The safety was not in direct danger, because there was another backup system active. Nevertheless FANC scaled this incident also as INES-1. Of these two incidents an official legal report was made. In the view of FANC was the staff had been negligent. And there were serieus questions about the safety culture.

In August 2015 4 people of the staff of Tihange were suspended for some time. In six weeks time, there had been 10 incidents on the Tihange powerplant. In cooperation with Electrabel an actionplan for safety was made. In the opinion of Wagner, the spokesman of FANC, it had "many good points".[30]

Labour unions' actions[edit]

On April 12, 2016, members of labour unions blocked access to the nuclear power station over longstanding complaints about business operations. Only staff in direct control of the reactors and soldiers for surveillance were admitted. Members of management, administration, maintenance and external staff was stopped, to the surprise of the Executive Board, which announced negotiations later that day.[31]

Extended German measurements to protects its population against possible nuclear accidents in Tihange[edit]

In the summer of 2016 the state of North Rhine-Westfalia ordered billions of iodine-tablets extra, in order to protect its population against nuclear accidents. There are no nuclear reactors located inside this state but the reactors in Tihange Belgium are located near the German border. People in Holland and Germany are serious concerned about their safety, these reactors are old and all incidents in the years gone by caused serious concern. In 2015 the German Government extended already the regulations for iodine tablets: now all pregnant women, feeding mothers and minors in the state will be eligible. Tablets will also be available for those living less than one hundred kilometers from the Tihange reactors and younger than 45 years of age.[32]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ https://web.archive.org/web/20110604114210/http://www.iaea.org/cgi-bin/db.page.pl/pris.powrea.htm?country=BE&sort=&sortlong=Alphabetic. Archived from the original on June 4, 2011. Retrieved August 1, 2008.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  2. ^ "Nuclear Power Reactors in the World" (PDF). IAEA. 2007. 
  3. ^ AD (11 maart 2016 )Belgische kernreactoren missen benodigde filters
  4. ^ omroep brabant (11 maart 2016) Kernreactor Doel mist belangrijk onderdeel dat radioactieve straling filtert
  5. ^ Nu.nl (11 maart 2016) duitsland zegt dat belgische kernreactoren filters missen
  6. ^ ravage-webzine.nl (11 maart 2016) geen filters in belgische kerncentrales
  7. ^ 4nieuws.nl (11 maart 2016) duitsland zegt dat belgische kernreactoren filters missen
  8. ^ 1limburg (11 maart 2016) Duitse regering: Belgische kernreactoren missen filters
  9. ^ "Archives - lesoir.be". Archives.lesoir.be. Retrieved 2016-03-22. 
  10. ^ "Tihange - Nuclear power in Europe". climatesceptics.org. 
  11. ^ Joeri Vlemings, Steffi Ophalvens. "Al zes jaar radioactief lek in Tihange". HLN (in Dutch). 
  12. ^ Gilles Toussaint. "Tihange: une fuite radioactive non résolue depuis 10 ans". lalibre.be. 
  13. ^ "Actualité - Belgique - lesoir.be". lesoir.be. 
  14. ^ "Scheuren tot 6 centimeter in reactorvat Tihange" (in Dutch). 
  15. ^ AD (10 juni 2016) (Dutch)Belgische kernreactor gaat uit na onregelmatigheid
  16. ^ AD (11 juni 2016) (Dutch) uitval reactor tihange door defecte motor
  17. ^ AD (9 September 2016) Also nuclear reactor Tihange 2 taken of the grid
  18. ^ Jen Kirby. "Brussels Suspects May Have Eyed Nuclear Facility -- NYMag". Daily Intelligencer. 
  19. ^ "Belgium Fears Nuclear Plants Are Vulnerable". The New York Times. 26 March 2016. 
  20. ^ RTBF (24 March 2016). "Centrale nucléaire de Tihange: onze personnes ont été privées de leur autorisation d'accès". RTBF Info. 
  21. ^ "Brussels attacks suspects Ibrahim and Khalid Bakraoui linked to plot to breach Belgium nuclear facility". 24 March 2016. 
  22. ^ "Brussels attacks: Nuclear alert after security officer found dead with his pass missing". Telegraph.co.uk. 26 March 2016. 
  23. ^ John Shammas (26 March 2016). "Security guard at Belgian nuclear site 'targeted by terrorists is killed and has access badge stolen'". mirror. 
  24. ^ AD.nl (26-02-2016) safety officer of nuclear plants in Belgium killed
  25. ^ Ad.nl (26-03-2016) Killed safety officer did not work at nuclear power plants
  26. ^ DHnet (26-03-2016) safety officer killed in Charleroi
  27. ^ "Brussels attacks: Nuclear alert after security officer found dead with his pass missing". Telegraph.co.uk. 26 March 2016. 
  28. ^ John Shammas (26 March 2016). "Security guard at Belgian nuclear site 'targeted by terrorists is killed and has access badge stolen'". mirror. 
  29. ^ "Belgium denies 'terror link' in murder of guard at nuclear centre". Yahoo News. 26 March 2016. 
  30. ^ De Morgen (2 July 2016) (Dutch) Nucleaire waakhond opnieuw boos om inbreuken tegen veiligheidsvoorschriften in kerncentrale
  31. ^ AD.nl (12 April 2016) (dutch)Unions block Belgian nuclear power station from discontent
  32. ^ AD.NL (August 08 2016)(dutch)German State fears nuclear disaster

External links[edit]

  • Belgian, Dutch, German alliance against the NPP Tihange stop-tihange.org
  • Site Electrabel regarding the nuclear plants in Doel and Tihange Electrabel