Because of new test results obtained at SCK•CEN, Electrabel has decided to advance the planned maintenance shut downs of the Doel 3 and Tihange 2 reactors. On March 26, the two reactors have been shut down.
Some 500 tests, commissioned by Electrabel, were conducted in the first half of 2013 in order to study the integrity and safety of the Doel 3 and Tihange 2 reactor vessels. Based on these test results the Federal Agency for Nuclear Control (FANC) gave green light to restart both reactors. However, FANC demanded additional tests to obtain more insight into the behaviour of the reactor vessel steel in the long term.
Because SCK•CEN has unique infrastructure for this kind of research - its BR2 research reactor and very specific laboratories - it was given the task to perform an irradiation campaign on materials that are considered to be representative of the reactor vessel steel used in the reactors in question. An irradiation cycle of four weeks performed in these research facilities corresponds to 40 years of irradiation in a conventional reactor. A test on irradiated materials has shown that some results do not meet expectations.
SCK•CEN is preparing an extra cycle for BR2 in order to perform additional material tests which should allow to get better insight into the current results. The results of these tests are expected as of June 15, 2014.