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 x 962 MW
1 x 1008 MW
1 x 1015 MW
Nameplate capacity 2,985
Annual generation 23 TWh

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.


On November 22, 2002, an incident occurred in Block 2 (INES 2). The reactor - shut down at this time and no longer critical - yet decay heat produced that was discharged as during power operation by circulating coolant in the primary circuit. In one test, a safety valve of the pressurizer has been opened by mistake, causing the pressure in the primary circuit very quickly fell from 155 to 85 bar bar. The high pressure in the primary circuit during operation causes the water does not boil even at a high temperature, but remains in the liquid state. If the pressure drops, then the boiling point of water is lowered. Then, the decay heat of the fuel can no longer be taken away, and there is a danger of a core meltdown. In this specific case several safety systems were activated due to the rapid pressure drop in the pumped water into the primary circuit and thus the fuel further cooled. The erroneously open 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.[3] 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.[4]

Since 2006 there has been a leak of 0.5 up to 2 liters slightly radioactive water from a deactivation-bath.[5] 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 known, that the leakage still exists. According to FANC this issue is "under control" and no radioactivity leaks outside the buildings.[6]

September 1, 2012, it became known that the Tihange 2 reactor shows up to 0.3 m-depth signs of erosion weakening the outer reinforced concrete mantle. Electrabel and the Belgian nuclear regulator FANC deny any immediate security risk since the reactor was already shut down for maintenance.[7]

February 23, 2015, Dutch newspaper reports on thousands of cracks well up to 6 cm according to Federaal Agentschap voor Nucleaire Controle (FANC).[8] 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.

See also[edit]


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