The reactor at the Doel 4 nuclear power plant in the village of Doel, part of the commune of of Beveren in East Flanders, was turned off under controlled conditions on Friday, operator Engie Electrabel said. The switch-off came less than a week after Doel 4 was turned back on again. The reason given was a blocked filter which crippled a pump in a non-nuclear section of the power station. The company is carrying out an investigation into how the incident took place, a spokesperson said.
The station has been out of commission throughout the summer, after damage was found in the concrete forming the roof of the bunker building of the reactor. According to Engie, the latest stoppage should last no more than 48 hours, and the reactor turned back on by Sunday.
As far as network manager Elia is concerned, the incident will have no effect on energy supplies in the short term. However the 1,000 megawatt output of Doel 4 is of crucial importance at the time of peak energy demand, in January and February, just to keep the lights on across the country.
Engie spokesperson Hellen Smeets played down the breakdown so soon after the reactor came back online. “The generator had been working for several days at full power, and so was exposed to high pressure and high temperatures, something which was not the case during the long closure,” she said. “So it’s not abnormal for problems to emerge soon after it started up again.”