In accordance with Belgian law requiring the phase-out of nuclear power, the Doel 3 reactor, which has been operating in Belgium for 40 years, has been shut down. The nuclear plant in Doel, a village north of the port city of Antwerp, has been shut down despite the energy crisis in Europe.
In Belgium, a nuclear reactor is now permanently shut down for the first time.
Due to the nuclear phase-out rule implemented by previous governments, the Doel 3 reactor, one of the four reactors at the Doel Nuclear Power Plant, disconnected from the grid at 21.15 local time. The 1978-built, grid-connected reactor with a capacity of 1,006 megawatt hours ran for 40 years.
Capillary fractures in the reactor pressure system were discovered in 2012, which led to a two-year maintenance stoppage. Seven reactors are present in Belgium, with four at the Doel nuclear power plant near the Dutch border and three at the Tihange nuclear power plant close to the borders with Germany and Luxembourg.
These reactors provide enough electricity to power about half the nation. Belgium added ten years to the lifespan of two reactors. The country opted to prolong the Doel 4 and Tihange 3 reactors’ operational lifetimes by 10 years following the Russia-Ukraine war in order to prevent a shortage in the country’s electricity supply. The reactors were originally scheduled to shut down in 2025.
The Doel 3 and Tihange 2 reactors were scheduled to shut down in September and February of next year, respectively, according to decisions made by past governments. However, the present administration began to work on prolonging the lifetime of these reactors as a result of the impending energy crisis. It was determined through discussions between both the operators and the government that it was neither technically possible nor permissible to delay the Doel 3 shutdown process at this time.
In the meantime, there was a demonstration against the Doel 3 reactor’s closure with roughly 100 participants. Why are they closing a nuclear power plant in the midst of an energy and ecological crisis? That was the question on the demonstrators’ enormous banner.
The demonstrators underlined the necessity of extending the reactor’s operational time in light of energy shortages by donning clothing that stated stop the nuclear exit. A protester by the name of Emrick remarked that they were there today for Doel 3, the first reactor in Belgium to be entirely decommissioned and shut down.
The protesters emphasised their backing for nuclear energy and argued that the government should alter its nuclear phase-out strategy in order to maintain the Doel 3 reactor’s operational status. The demonstrator also stressed how crucial it is for Belgium to use every megawatt-hour of electricity generated on its soil during this trying time.