UPDATE 1-Belgium does not have to shut Engie nuclear reactor, court rules

By Marine Strauss and Bart Biesemans. BRUSSELS, Sept 3- A Brussels court ruled on Thursday that Belgium does not have to shut down Engie’s Tihange-2 nuclear reactor after a challenge from several Dutch, German and Luxembourg cities and states citing possible safety defects. A lawyer for neighbouring cities, including Aachen and Maastricht, told Reuters the…

By Marine Strauss and Bart Biesemans

BRUSSELS, Sept 3 (Reuters) – A Brussels court ruled onThursday that Belgium does not have to shut down Engie’sTihange-2 nuclear reactor after a challenge fromseveral Dutch, German and Luxembourg cities and states citingpossible safety defects.

Belgium’s nuclear regulator AFCN allowed the 1,008 megawattreactor to restart in 2015 after it was closed for aninvestigation into apparent cracks. The plaintiffs said thispermission should not have been granted.

“We are sure and we are convinced that the reactor vessel issafe,” Ines Venneman, a spokeswoman for the AFCN, told Reutersin an interview.

A lawyer for neighbouring cities, including Aachen andMaastricht, told Reuters the outcome of the trial wasdisappointing as nothing would change for the plant, which issome 45 kilometres (28 miles) from the Dutch border and 70 kmfrom Germany.

“This is, of course, a disappointing ruling for us,”Annemarie Penn-te Strake, the mayor of Dutch town Maastricht,said in a statement. “It will not remove many people’s feelingsof insecurity.”

The reactor, one of three at the Tihange plant operated byEngie’s Belgian unit Electrabel, was closed in 2012 and again in2014 after inspections revealed tiny cracks in its core tanks.

In an unusual diplomatic move, Germany requested in 2016that the nuclear plant be taken offline until safety concernswere addressed.

But the Belgian regulator authorised a restart in November2015 after finding the cracks were hydrogen flakes in the wallsof the reactor tank and did not compromise the plant’s safety.

The Belgian government decided in 2018 that the country’snuclear power plants, Tihange and Doel, would be closed in 2025.Tihange-2 is scheduled to close in February 2023.(Reporting by Marine Strauss @StraussMarine, Bart Biesemans;editing by Philip Blenkinsop, Mark Potter and Barbara Lewis)

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