The CEO of the Federal Agency for Nuclear Control (the “AFCN”), Frank Hardeman, said on Tuesday that he believed the concrete degradation in non-nuclear areas of two nuclear power stations had been underestimated. Mr Hardeman, questioned by the Parliamentary Subcommittee on Nuclear Safety, indicated, “For a long time, we believed that concrete degradation had no impact on the structure of the buildings.” For this reason, any maintenance was initially of a “superficial” degree.
The areas of the nuclear power stations affected by problems of concrete degradation relate to the time-redundant safety systems. However, they must function to guarantee the power station continues to operate in the event of, for example, aeroplane crashes.
The Doel 3 plant was affected but it has become operational after the repair of the concrete affected by humidity, whilst Doel 4, Tihange 2 and Tihange 3 are at a standstill, owing to both planned overhaul and repair of their concrete elements.
The leader of the AFCN adds that the issue is now being treated in a “proactive” way by the operator of the power station (Engie-Electrabel).