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Question to EU regarding testing of Nuclear Reactor Pressure Vessels:
“Parliamentary questions
19 February 2015 P-002568-15
Question for written answerto the Commission
Rule 130, Rebecca Harms (Verts/ALE)

Subject: Tests to detect faults in vessels of nuclear power plants

On 13 February 2015, the Belgian Federal Agency for Nuclear Control (FANC) revealed that several thousands more micro-cracks had been found in the vessels of the two Belgian nuclear power plants Doel 3 and Tihange 2 than during the inspections carried out in 2012-2013. According to independent scientists these cracks may not result from flawed manufacturing, as previously assumed.

In the view of Digby MacDonald (University of California, Berkeley, USA), ‘[…] the fundamental root cause of this is most likely a corrosion problem. And unless we deal with the root cause, we are never likely to understand the phenomenon.’

In addition, the Belgian materials scientist Walter Bogaerts has stated: ‘I am afraid that the corrosion aspects have been underestimated.’ The unidentified degradation of critical components of the two reactors point to a potentially endemic and significant safety problem for reactors globally.

How does the Commission assess the abovementioned findings, and what conclusions does it draw?

Given the new findings, does the Commission envisage asking all Member States to run tests on the entire surface and thickness of the vessels of all of their nuclear power plants with a view to detecting faults of any kind, along the lines of the tests conducted in Belgium?

How will the Commission ensure that all Member States comply with such a request?

Last updated: 24 February 2015″ Source: European Parliament
http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getDoc.do?type=WQ&reference=P-2015-002568&format=XML&language=EN (Emphasis our own).

Related expert study: “Flawed Reactor Pressure Vessels in Belgian Nuclear Plants Doel-3 and Tihange-2, Some Comments“, by Ilse Tweer, Materials Scientist, Consultant, January 2013 Commissioned by Rebecca Harms, President of The Greens/EFA Group in the European Parliament http://www.greens-efa.eu/fileadmin/dam/Documents/Studies/Flawed%20Reactor%20Pressure%20Vessels%20in%20Belgian%20Nuclear%20Plants%20Doel-3%20and%20Tihange-2.pdf

Mining Awareness Comment-NB: Expert view appears to have concluded that this is not a defect in manufacture per se. Rather, these cracks reflect the impossibly complex problem of material damage both over time and in the context of ionizing radiation. Any defects in manufacture are magnified in this process, but the process is inherent to the nuclear industry. It is a problem not only for the nuclear reactors, but also for the nuclear waste. Nonetheless, it is especially dangerous for pressurized nuclear reactors (PMR), which as their name suggests are under pressure. As well, they have an even more complex coolant chemistry. The salt reactors promoted as a “solution” are even more dangerous than water cooled reactors. They have an even harsher impact on materials and are highly flammable and catch fire-explode in contact with air and water.