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Belgium unlikely to extend more nuclear reactors – watchdog

(Montel) Belgium is unlikely to consider extending the lifetimes of other nuclear reactors on top of Doel 4 and Tihange 3 (1 GW each), said the head of the country’s AFCN nuclear safety authority, local media reported.

“Never say never, but I am convinced that it is not realistic,” Frank Hardeman said, L’Echo reported at the weekend.

French utility Engie – whose subsidiary Electrabel operates Belgium’s 4 GW nuclear fleet – had given “no signal” that it was considering such an option, he told the Belgian daily, adding that it would be “complicated” to bring other reactors up to current standards.

The three remaining reactors – Tihange 1, Doel 1 and 2 (1.85 GW) – are due to close next year, after two 2 GW units closed over the last two years.

In December, Engie and the Belgian government signed a final agreement to extend the lifetime of Tihange 3 and Doel 4 by 10 years until 2035.

The reactors will undergo maintenance to restart in November 2025 at the earliest. However, “we cannot guarantee that the reactors will be able to restart at the scheduled dates,” Hardeman said.

The watchdog sent Engie its expectations for the design upgrade of the units last summer and Hardeman said it would divide the work into “sub-projects” to speed up implementation.