00:41 GMT13 May 2021
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    BRUSSELS (Sputnik) - A degradation in concrete quality was discovered at Tihange 2 nuclear power unit in southern Belgium, which was temporarily stopped in September for repairs and maintenance, Engie's Belgian subsidiary Electrabel, the operator of all nuclear power plants in the country, said the VRT broadcaster on Wednesday.

    "We found anomalies in the reinforcement of the concrete structure, and this was openly reported to the Belgian Federal Agency for Nuclear Control," Engie Electrabel's Chief Nuclear Officer Thierry Saegeman stated.

    The issue was detected in the ceiling of a five-story so-called “bunker building,” which houses the reactor's emergency systems, he specified.

    READ MORE: Belgian Nuclear Plant Test Reveals 'Abnormal' Findings, Raises Safety Concerns

    According to Sageman, due to the ongoing repair work, the reactor will be restarted no earlier than June 2019.

    Belgium has seven nuclear power units installed at two nuclear power plants — four at Doel and three at Tihange. The two plants have a combined capacity of almost 6,000 megawatts and cover more than half of the country's electricity needs, according to Engie Electrabel.

    In September, the company reported that only two out of seven units are currently operating: Doel 3 and Tihange 1. The latter will stop working from October 20 to November 28 for routine technical maintenance. The other five units, including Tihange 2, have been stopped due to either degrading concrete or leaks in their cooling systems.

    In connection with the repairs being carried out in October and November, only one nuclear power unit will remain in operation. The authorities are going to cover the resulting shortage of electricity with imports from Germany, France, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg. According to experts, 4,000 megawatts of electricity may be lost. Belgian Energy Minister Marie-Christine Marghem has placed all responsibility for the situation, the potential need to import electricity from abroad, and the subsequent growth in tariffs, on Engie Electrabel.

    READ MORE: Belgians Receive Free Iodine Pills Amid Nuclear Meltdown Jitters (VIDEO)

    The Belgian government is planning to shut down all of its reactors by 2025, fearing accidents like the one that has occurred at Japan's Fukushima nuclear power plant in 2011.


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    leaks, Fukushima disaster, concrete, nuclear power plant, Marie-Christine Marghem, Thierry Saegeman, Belgium
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