The cracks, which possibly date back to the reactor’s construction some 40 years ago, were discovered using ultra-sound during inspections in June and July.
Belgium’s nuclear regulator, the federal agency for nuclear control (FANC), said the reactor is in shutdown mode for inspections and its fuel has been discharged.
The reactor poses no threat to the population, workers or the surrounding environment, stated FANC. The agency says the cracks had only now been discovered because the ultra-sound inspection had never before been carried out.
The announcement follows a meeting in Brussels on Thursday organised by FANC along with nuclear experts from the United States, France, Switzerland, Sweden, the Netherlands, Germany, Spain and the United Kingdom.
“We are considering these flaw indications very seriously and they were the focus of the international meeting of the nuclear safety authorities held today,” said the FANC in statement.
Dutch company Droogdok Maatschapij (DRM), which is no longer in business, built the Doel 3 reactor vessel. The company also built another 21 casings for other reactors around the world.
These include another one for Belgium’s Tihange 2 reactor, two in The Netherlands, two in Germany, two in Spain, one in Sweden, two in Switzerland, 10 in the United States and one in Argentina, reports Belgium’s Le Soir newspaper.
Belgium has since shut down the Doel 3 but aim to reportedly restart the reactor in October. Authorities also aim to shut down its Tihange 2 reactor for one week.
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