Expatica news

Belgium nuclear plant restarted after sabotage

One of Belgium’s seven nuclear reactors came back on line Friday, four and a half months after a mysterious sabotage caused its closure, the plant’s operator Electrabel said on Friday.

The Doel 4 reactor in northern Belgium was shut urgently in August after a leak, caused by tampering, gushed out 65,000 litres of oil lubricant.

A steam turbine weighing 1,700 tonnes was severely damaged in the incident, requiring a 30-million-euro ($37-million) repair job that was carried out in neighbouring Germany.

Belgian prosecutors, who deal with cases involving national security, have refused to confirm the incident as an act of terrorism, without excluding it either.

With the relaunch of Doel 4, two reactors in Belgium still remain shut due to cracks in their concrete reactor containment vessels.

To face a winter power shortfall, Belgium’s government announced Thursday plans to extend the service life of two nuclear reactors due to be shut down next year.

The Doel 1 and 2 reactors were due to be the first to be shut down as part of Belgium’s planned phase out of nuclear power by 2025, but the government said it would seek to keep them operating.

Nuclear plants account for 55 percent of Belgium’s power generation, and the loss of over half of the country’s nuclear power has caused concerns of a shortage or even a blackout.

Regulators have put in place special measures to help meet Belgium’s needs this winter.