Country profile: Belgium

Summary figures for 2012

The following information is from the NEA publication Nuclear Energy Data, the annual compilation of official statistics and country reports on nuclear energy in OECD member countries.

Country
Number of nuclear power plants connected to the grid
Nuclear electricity generation
(net TWh) 2012
Nuclear percentage of total electricity supply
Belgium
7
40.0
*
51.9
 
OECD Europe
133
849.0
24.0
 
Total
331
1 884.0
18.9
 

* Low nuclear production in 2012 due to pressure vessel problems at Doel 3 and Tihange 2.

Country report

The year 2012 was a rather difficult year. After the elaboration of an electricity production plan to guarantee the security of national electricity supply for the short, medium and long term, the government approved a new calendar for the closure of nuclear reactors. The previous decision to phase out all reactors after 40 years of operation was maintained, except for the Tihange 1 reactor that was granted an extension of 10 years (moving the scheduled closing date to 2025). This decision has still to be confirmed by law in order to modify the phase-out law of 2003. A draft text containing several other legal arrangements has been prepared.

In the course of 2012, during a routine investigation of the pressure vessels of the reactors Doel 3 and Tihange 2 with a new type of ultrasonic equipment, a number of fault indications were discovered, leading to a temporary shutdown of the two reactors. A thorough evaluation programme was started in order to establish a justification file for the restart of the reactors. This file had to demonstrate that the discovered fault indications do not constitute a danger for the structural integrity of the reactor pressure vessels. At the end of 2012, the evaluation was still ongoing. In May 2013, the Belgian safety authorities published a report on the issue, concluding that the cracks did not negatively affect the safety status of the pressure vessels and the two reactors were allowed to restart.

As mentioned in previous reports, the Belgian government approved the near surface disposal facility for low- and intermediate-level short-lived waste at the municipality of Dessel. The Belgian waste management organisation NIRAS/ONDRAF has prepared a safety case in order to obtain a construction and operation licence for the facility from the safety authorities. In 2011, Belgium requested that the Nuclear Energy Agency (NEA) organise a peer review of key aspects of the safety case. The review was completed in September 2012 and the key findings were presented to Belgian stakeholders. The main conclusion was that the long-term safety strategy and the safety assessment methodology are, in general, credible and robust. A number of recommendations were formulated with respect to future R&D activities, design improvements and the presentation of the safety results. The safety case was adapted taking into account the recommendations and submitted to the safety authorities at the beginning of 2013.

In the previous years, the Belgian waste management organisation NIRAS/ONDRAF submitted to the government a file on the long-term management of medium-, high-level and long-lived wastes after a long period of preparation that included several hearings, consultation in a citizen forum, a strategic environmental impact assessment and broad public consultation. The purpose of the file is to obtain a decision-in-principle on the deep geological disposal of those waste types in non-indurated clay (Boom or Ypresian clay). At the end of 2013, the government was reviewing the file.

During 2012, Belgium continued to actively support the High-level Group on the Security of Supply of Medical Radioisotopes (HLG-MR) of the NEA. Belgium has continued to do the necessary efforts to implement the policy principles approved by the HLG-MR and the NEA Steering Committee, in order to improve the security of supply of medical isotopes. The BR2-reactor of SCK-CEN (Belgian Nuclear Research Centre) at Mol and the target processing facility of the National Institute for Radioelements (IRE) at Fleurus have continued to operate normally, contributing to maintaining a reliable supply.

After the positive decision by the Belgian government in March 2010 on the MYRRHA-project (a multipurpose fast-spectrum irradiation facility, able to operate in the subcritical [ADS-configuration] and the critical mode) and the approval of the financing for the first period (2010-2014), efforts have since continued towards the realisation of the project, including developing:

Source: Nuclear Energy Data 2013

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Last reviewed: 10 December 2013