Our nuclear infrastructure is aging rapidly. Or is already outdated. By keeping the Doel 3 and Tihange 2 reactors running, we are taking unacceptable risks says Walter Bogaerts, the former director of Belgoprocess(1) and professor at the University of Gent and Leuven, in an opinion piece published in De Standard on September 4, 2017. In his view, the evidence of unacceptable risk-taking is compelling. The 2014 inspections not only showed that there were more « micro cracks » in the reactor vessels than in 2012, but that they were also larger. Some cracks have grown to a maximum size of 17.9 by 7.2 centimeters. And there are many of them: 13,047 in the Doel 3 tank and 3,149 in the Tihange tank(2). For Doel 3, this means that in some parts of the tank there are more than 40 cracks per cubic decimeter. The argument that they are barely the thickness of a cigarette leaf has no scientific merit. The three-dimensional network that makes up the steel and ensures its cohesion is broken at the location of these cracks.

Walter Bogaerts considers that these two reactors have no future: if the AFCN(3) fulfilled its true role of nuclear watchdog in this matter and applied the fundamental principles of nuclear safety, these two reactors could only be shut down and dismantled.

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Free translation, notes and complements : FDN, Francis Leboutte

Notes et références
  1. Belgoprocess est une entreprise belge spécialisée dans le traitement, le conditionnement et l’entreposage provisoire des déchets radioactifs, et aussi dans le démantèlement des installations nucléaires et l’assainissement des bâtiments et terrains contaminés.
  2. Et ne s’étendent que dans le sens du pourtour de la cuve. Pour rappel, ces fissures font quelques microns (millième de millimètre) dans le sens du rayon de la cuve et plusieurs centimètres dans les autres dimensions (le pourtour de la cuve), jusqu’à 18 cm.
  3. AFCN : Agence fédérale de contrôle nucléaire.

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