PARIS, Aug 14 (Reuters) – Belgian energy company Electrabel said its Doel 4 nuclear reactor would stay offline at least until the end of this year after major damage to its turbine, with the cause confirmed as sabotage.
On Tuesday, Electrabel had said the plant would remain offline until Sept. 15 as it carried out repairs and investigated an oil leak that forced its closure on Aug. 5. Its French parent company GDF Suez confirmed the closure was due to sabotage.
The shutdown of Doel 4’s nearly 1 gigawatt (GW) of electricity generating capacity as well as closures of two other reactors (Doel 3 and Tihange 2) or months because of cracks in steel reactor casings adds up to just over 3 GW of Belgian nuclear capacity that is offline, more than half of the total.
Well… no telling if it was a disgruntled employee, or something even more nefarious.
The turbine side of a nuke plant is pretty much the same as if it were a coal powered plant.* There’s no radiation hazard or anything like that. Of course, you can’t run the reactor at anything approaching capacity without the turbine section, because you need it to extract heat from the steam, so it can be condensed and returned to the heat exchanger, where it cools the primary coolant loop.
For now, we’re putting this in the “bad, but not panic” bin.
*Let’s not get into superheat and saturated steam and whatnot