Country profile: Belgium

Summary figures for 2013

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) 2013
Nuclear percentage of total electricity supply
Belgium
7
42.5
 
53.7
 
OECD Europe
133
833.1
23.7
 
Total
325
1 883.2
18.6
 

Country report

On 16 January 2003, the Belgian federal parliament voted a law that promulgates the gradual phase-out of nuclear fission energy for commercial electricity production. The law prohibits the construction of new nuclear power plants and sets a 40-year limit on the operational period of existing plants. On 4 July 2012, the Belgian government decided to postpone the shutdown of Tihange 1 by ten years – this decision was confirmed by law at the end of 2013. The first reactors to be shut down will be Doel 1 and 2 in February and December 2015, respectively. The shutdown calendar is as follows:

In the course of 2012, during a routine investigation of the reactor pressure vessels of Doel 3 and Tihange 2, with a new type of ultrasonic equipment, a number of fault indications were discovered leading to the temporary shutdown of the two reactors. A thorough evaluation programme was started to establish a justification file for the restart of the reactors. This file had to demonstrate that the discovered faults did not constitute a danger for the structural integrity of the reactor pressure vessels. 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 National Agency for Radioactive Waste and Enriched Fissile Material (ONDRAF/NIRAS) has prepared a safety case to obtain a construction and operation licence for this facility from the safety authorities. In 2011, Belgium requested that the OECD 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 conclusions were 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 research and development (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 previous years, ONDRAF/NIRAS submitted a file to the government on long-term management of medium- and high-level long-lived wastes after a long period of preparation, which included several hearings, a consultation in a citizen forum, a strategic environmental impact assessment and broad public consultation. The purpose of this 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 2013, 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 make the necessary efforts to implement the policy principles approved by the HLG-MR and the NEA Steering Committee, 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, thus 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 that can operate in the subcritical [ADS-configuration] and the critical mode) and the approval of financing for the first phase of the project (2010-2014), efforts have since continued towards the realisation of the project, including:

Source: Nuclear Energy Data 2014

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Last reviewed: 15 December 2014