Possible reactor faults to be probed on Belgian warning

Garoña and Cofrentes plants in Spain could be affected, according to Nuclear Security Council

The Nuclear Security Council is to investigate whether a fault detected at a nuclear facility in Belgium has also affected the Garoña and Cofrentes plants in Spain. The Doel 3 plant in Belgium remains inactive after thousands of fissures were detected in the reactor vessel built by Rotterdam Drydocks, which also supplied the component for the Spanish plants.

It has not yet been decided whether to stop activity at the two stations, the only way to fully investigate the state of the reactor vessels.

In a statement, the CSN said that at Cofrentes “the vessel is potentially not affected” and at Garoña “the size and thickness of the vessel, its dimensions and its forged components” are different to the Doel 3 vessel.

On August 16 Belgium called a meeting of EU regulators France, Switzerland, Sweden, Holland, Germany, the UK and Spain, all of whom had received reactor vessels from the now-defunct company. At its Doel 3 inspection, Belgium detected defects in the vessel that “may have originated in the manufacturing process.” It was decided to shut down Doel 3 immediately and Belgium issued a warning that the same fault could occur in other reactors. The reactor vessel is a key component of nuclear power plants as the reaction is produced inside.

The CSN stated it will carry out inspections on the vessels and the paperwork as to when they were received. Some of these documents date from four decades ago.

Garoña, which has been described by Greenpeace as a Spanish Fukushima waiting to happen, was due to close in 2013 but has applied for an extension until 2019, a proposal that has received the backing of the government.

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