On 2 March, the weekly magazine Knack published an article entitled ‘"De scheuren in Doel 3 en Tihange 2 kunnen groeien (The cracks in Doel 3 and Tihange 2 could grow). The article refers to studies that SCK•CEN carried out on the reactor vessels of the two reactors. Because we understand that this issue may arouse certain emotions among the general public, we feel that we, as scientific experts, are obliged to refute the statements that Walter Bogaerts made in this article.
Over the past 60 years, our Belgian research centre has accumulated unique expertise in analysing the behaviour of materials used for reactor vessels, expertise that is internationally recognised. In this context, the SCK•CEN carries out many assignments all over the world.
Regarding Doel 3 and Tihange 2, we conducted all the tests on non-irradiated and irradiated materials that were important in this case. These analyses were supplemented with information from our vast validated databank. For these kinds of tests, SCK•CEN has state-of-the-art test facilities beds and thorough evaluation procedures required to be able to assess material behaviour reliably under all circumstances. Using these methods, we also participated intensively in the final integrity study for the Doel 3 and Tihange 2 reactor vessels.
All test results, their analysis and interpretation were presented to and evaluated by an international review board set up by the Federal Agency for Nuclear Control (FANC). The approval to restart the nuclear power stations was based on these results and their evaluation.
SCK•CEN also participated in the hydrogen research and was present at the discussions with experts that the FANC appointed and the other experts mentioned by Mr Bogaerts. The conclusion of these experts was that the so-called hydrogen pressure effect to which Mr Bogaerts refers is non-existent.
The decision based on the analyses is clear: the structural integrity of the Doel 3 and Tihange 2 reactor vessels is within internationally imposed safety standards for nuclear reactors. .