UPDATE 2-Belgian Doel 4 nuclear reactor closed till year-end | Reuters

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.

via UPDATE 2-Belgian Doel 4 nuclear reactor closed till year-end | Reuters.

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

11 thoughts on “UPDATE 2-Belgian Doel 4 nuclear reactor closed till year-end | Reuters”

  1. Will be interested to see if this was a physical act or done through a SCADA link.

  2. Nuke gen plans use Carnot cycle engines just as coal fired stations do. The only difference is the source of heat to produce the high temp reservoir. At least a turbine did not come apart. I saw the result of that when I visited TVA’s Gallatin Steam Plant in ’74. One chuck of turbine nearly pierced the 12″ reinforced concrete ceiling and another took out the control room. No one was hurt but it is sobering to realize how much energy is in that spinning turbine.

    1. You got to see the Gallatin Steam Plant that had the turbine incident??!?!?! Have you got any pictures? That is rather legendary in the power generation community!

    2. Alas, no. That was my first quarter in Engineering School and I forgot to bring my instamatic camera with me. I kicked myself when I saw the damage. It was horrific.

  3. We can’t talk about superheat? can we at least talk about the steam drum or the economizer? 😉

  4. According to Wikipedia, Doral is a pressurized ware reactor station, so there is a barrier (usually effective) between the secondary steam that goes to the turbines and the radioactive primary coolant.

    However, in boiling water reactors the radioactive primary is boiled (never would have guessed that from the name, would you?) and that radioactive steam is sent to the turbines. Turbine maintenance at those plants is … non-trivial. On the other hand, the turbine house is part of the primary containment, so sabotage would be less likely.

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