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27/09/2016

Germany tells Belgium to take two nuclear reactors offline

Energy

Germany tells Belgium to take two nuclear reactors offline

Unresolved safety concerns at two of Belgium's nuclear plants has led Berlin to request they be taken offline.

[Andreas Krischer/Flickr]

Germany has called upon the Belgian government to take two of its nuclear reactors temporarily offline, as there are “open safety concerns”, according to its environment minister. EurActiv Germany reports.

Berlin has officially asked the Belgian government to shutdown reactors at its Tihange and Doel facilities for a limited period of time, given their close proximity to the German border. Reactor 2 at Tihange and reactor 3 at Doel should be switched off until “open safety concerns are clarified”, explained Federal Minister for the Environment Barbara Hendricks (SPD). Hendricks cited the advice of the Reactor Safety Commission (RSK) and discussions that had been carried out between German and Belgian experts.

In Germany and the Netherlands, there are serious safety concerns about the two nuclear sites, which are now both over 40-years-old. Both facilities have more than one reactor and are located close to both the German and Dutch borders. Tihange and Doel have both had their fair share of technical problems during their operating periods.

EU's ageing nuclear reactors pose significant safety risks

It isn’t just far-off Ukraine that has its worries about nuclear power. 128 nuclear power plants in the EU with an average age of 30.6 years provide food for thought that is much closer to home. EurActiv’s partner Tagesspiegel reports.

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“The independent experts of the RSK were unable to assure me that the safety margins surrounding Tihange 2 and Doel 3 would be met,” Hendricks added. “Therefore, I think it is only right that they be taken offline temporarily until further investigations have been carried out,” she explained.

Such a move would be seen as “a strong precautionary measure. It would also demonstrate that Belgium takes the concerns of its German neighbour seriously.” Concerns were first raised about the aging reactors when hydrogen flakes, thin non-piercing cracks, appeared in the steel walls of the reactors’ pressure vessels.

In the wake of the Brussels attacks, the Tihange site was partially evacuated on the request of the national government, although all essential personnel remained at their posts.

Future of former Spanish nuclear site remains unclear

Spain may be committed to phasing out nuclear power, but there are concerns about its older reactors and the alleged lack of transparency when it comes to addressing safety issues. EurActiv Spain reports.

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