IAEA approves long-term operation of Belgium’s Tihange-1

20 December 2016

An International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Safety Aspects of Long Term Operation (Salto) mission has concluded that preparation for the long-term operation of unit 1 of Belgium’s Tihange NPP is “consistent with international standards”. Belgium’s nuclear regulator, the Federal Agency for Nuclear Control (Fanc), said the IAEA had concluded that owner Engie and operator Electrabel (a subsidiary fo Engie) had made the progress necessary to prepare for long-term operation. The Salto mission assessed progress made at the plant since a similar mission in 2015. In December 2013 the Belgian government approved the continued operation of Tihange-1 (a 962MWs pressurised water reactor) until 2025. This long-term operation is, however, subject to conditions. Fanc said Electrabel must demonstrate its “technical and organisational capacity” for ensuring safe operation of the Tihange-1 until 2025. In September Tihange-1 was shut down because a non-nuclear building was damaged during construction work. Electrabel said the unit is not likely to be restarted before February 2017. Tihange-1 began commercial operation in October 1975.

Meanwhile, Electrabel will have to raise provisions for decommissioning its seven nuclear units in Belgium and storing waste by €1.8bn ($1.88bn), after revision of the discount rate used to calculate provisions by the Commission for Nuclear Provisions (CNP). The rate will be cut from 4.8% at the end of 2015 to 4.2% at the end of 2016, 3.85% at the end of 2017 and 3.5% at the end of 2018. This will increase the level of Electrabel's required provisions, which are expected to cover nuclear plant dismantling and used fuel management costs. At the end of 2015, Electrabel's nuclear provisions stood at €8.4bn, including €3.6bn for decommissioning and €4.7bn for waste management. The revised discount rate will raise provisions to €9.2bn at the end of 2016. Electrabel’s seven nuclear reactors, with a combined capacity of 5.9GWe, are scheduled to stop operations between 2022 and 2025. The CNP report takes into account a 10-year lifetime extension at units 1 and 2 of the Doel NPP.



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