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13 June, 2017

Aging Belgian nuclear power plant shows new cracks

Since the last inspection of Belgium’s aging Tihange 2 nuclear reactor in 2014, experts have discovered 72 new cracks in its high-pressure boiler.

According to Belgian Interior Minister Jan Jambon, the cracks were found by cameras using ultrasound technology. The plant will continue operating as usual, Jambon added.

Anti-nuclear activists and German politicians alike have long criticised the nuclear facility, which sits less than 40 miles from the German border.

There are three reactors at the plant, which is now more than 40 years old. It has faced a number of incidents and shutdowns due to issues with safety and maintenance.

As of 2015, 3,149 points of damage had been found on the Tihange 2 reactor by nuclear inspectors, according to reports from Belgian newspaper Belga. The Nuclear Stop organization says that the number has risen to 3,219, an increase of 2.2 percent.

Belgium is often forced to extend the lifespan of nuclear reactors while developing other energy sources, as about 39 percent of its electric supply comes from nuclear power.

A November control check also revealed previously undetected microcracks at the Doel 3 nuclear reactor near Antwerp.

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