German Federal Environment Minister Barbara Hendricks has urged the Belgian Government to temporarily close Tihange 2 and Doel 3 nuclear reactors located close to German border due to safety concerns.


The request follows a report from the Germany’s Reactor Safety Commission (RSK) which stated that the two reactors could create problems in the event of a fault although security reserves were sufficient for normal operation.

The Belgian authorities are also being requested to shut operations at the nuclear plants temporarily until further investigations are completed.

Hendricks said: "The independent experts of RSK cannot confirm that the safety margins of Tihange 2 and Doel 3 can be maintained.

"That is why I believe it is right to temporarily take the plants offline, at least until further investigations have been completed."

The 2,919MW Doel and 2,985MW Tihange nuclear plants, which are being operated by Engie’s Belgian unit Electrabel, cater to 60% of the total energy needs in Belgium.

In 2012, the Doel 3 and Tihange 2 reactors were shut down after detection of flaws in the reactor pressure vessels, according to media sources. They resumed operations last year.

In response to the request, Belgium’s Federal Agency for Nuclear Control (FANC) said that the two reactors meet the international safety standards and there is no need to shut down these units from a nuclear safety point of view.

FANC director-general Jan Bens said: "Our German colleagues asked lots of questions, but they did not raise any new issues that we had not taken into account during our review of the Doel 3 and Tihange 2 safety cases.

"Therefore we are still convinced that there is no need to shut down these units from a nuclear safety point of view. Our conclusions remain unchanged, despite what Minister Hendricks says."

Germany intends to shut down all its eight nuclear reactors by 2022 and instead focus on wind and solar power generation.

Image: The Tihange nuclear power station in Belgium. Photo: courtesy of Michielverbeek / Wikipedia.