Belgium Nuclear Reactors Shut Over Cracks
Two Belgian nuclear reactors may have to be shut down permanently after cracks were found in their core tanks.
Production at the Tihange 2 and Doel 3 sites was halted in March for tests after inspectors discovered irregularities in the strength of the tanks.
State broadcaster VRT has reported that the reactors may not be fired up again in the spring, as scheduled, because of fears over the safety of the reactors.
The sites, owned by GDF-Suex unit Electrabel, were first closed in 2012.
The 1,008 MW Tihange 2 reactor in the south of the country was closed for inspection in September of that year.
Tests are continuing on the tanks but interim findings show the cracks have weakened them.
Another reactor, Doel 4, has also been temporarily shut down because of damage to its turbine.
It means than more than half of Belgium's nuclear capacity is currently offline.
Belgian industry regulator FANC forced Electrabel to shut the Doel 3 reactor two years ago over safety fears.
FANC's intervention raised the prospect that the then 30-year-old reactor would be shut permanently.
Meanwhile Doel has become a near-ghost town in recent years.
In addition to the nuclear woes, the port of Antwerp announced plans last year to expand facilities into Doel - erasing it from the map.
The Flemish regional government aimed to include the village in one of Europe's largest ports.
Remaining villagers asked the country's highest administrative court to block the planned redevelopment.