Germany cautious but ‘reassured’ on Belgian nuclear status

Germany’s environment minister Barbara Hendricks says she was reassured for now over the safety of neighbouring Belgium’s nuclear power plants after talks between both governments.

Hendricks said, “For now I am reassured. We will see,” after talks with Belgian Interior Minister Jan Jambon. “Belgium has assured us that experts will respond to the catalogue of questions from the German government in February,” she added.Jan Jambon and Barbara Hendricks

Hendricks was the latest European minister to hold talks with Belgian officials following similar meetings last month involving Luxembourg and the Netherlands about the ageing Doel and Tihange nuclear power plants.

Worries had been expressed about the structural integrity of the plants, following the Belgian decision to extend the lives of 40-year-old reactors Doel 1 and Doel 2 until 2025 under a deal to preserve jobs and invest in the transition to cleaner energy.

Microfractures discovered in 2012 in the reactor pressure vessels of these plants had caused lengthy closures of the reactors. They were both restarted at the end of last year, one having to close quickly again, for a few days, after a water leak.

The situation was compounded when the Doel 4 reactor was also shut down urgently in August 2014 after a leak in the turbine hall, caused by tampering, gushed out 65,000 litres of oil lubricant. The investigation continues.

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