Expert says no problem in Belgian nuclear reactors

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The head of the Belgian Federal Agency for Nuclear Controls Jan Bens has told Belgian lawmakers that the cracks in the reactor vessels of the Doel and Tihange nuclear power reactors have been there since their construction in 1974 and did not appear afterwards as a result of radiation levels.

The FANC’s Jan Bens seemed pretty sure of his case and told legislators: “I would stick my hand in fire to prove it.”

Mr Bens told lawmakers that the results of tests carried out so far did not suggest any need to close the reactors immediately. Further tests will have to be carried out to show whether or not the two reactors that were shut down when the cracks were found can be restarted safely.

Next month another reactor in Tihange will be tested for tears during its annual maintenance. No tests are being carried out on two further reactors in Doel because these are being taken out of service in two years’ time.

It is the government that will decide whether the two reactors that have been closed down will be restarted again. The FANC will advise in the matter after tests are completed.

The tears are no thicker than cigarette paper Mr Bens told MPs. He added that all experts agree that the tears will not get any bigger.

Some 8,000 tears have been found, but Mr Bens insists that the experts are convinced that 8,000 tears are ‘insignificant’.