PREAMBLE AND SUMMARY
This report provides information on the status and development of nuclear power programmes in Belgium, including factors related to the effective planning, decision making and implementation of the nuclear power programme that together lead to safe and economical operations of nuclear power plants (NPPs).
The CNPP summarizes organizational and industrial aspects of nuclear power programmes and provides information about the relevant legislative, regulatory and international framework in Belgium.
There are seven nuclear power reactors in commercial operation in Belgium, four in Doel and three in Tihange. Having been connected to the grid between 1974 and 1985, they have an average age of 42 years.
In 2003, the federal Parliament passed a law prohibiting the construction of new nuclear units intended for the industrial production of electricity by nuclear fission in Belgium, while limiting the operation of existing reactors to 40 years. According to this law, nuclear fission energy was to be phased out between 2015 and 2025. Successive governments have amended the law in order to ensure the security of supply of electricity extending the operating licences of the three oldest reactors by ten years but always confirming the decision to phase out all nuclear power reactors by 2025. However, on 18 March 2022, the federal government decided to take the necessary steps to extend the operational life of the two youngest nuclear power reactors, Doel 4 and Tihange 3, by ten years until 2035.
Together, these plants can generate about 55% of the country's electricity needs. In 2021, they produced 47 892 GWh or 50.8% of total electricity production.
1. COUNTRY ENERGY OVERVIEW
1.1. ENERGY INFORMATION
1.1.1. Energy policy
Each of the three regions of Belgium (Flanders, Wallonia and Brussels Capital Region) and each of the three linguistic communities (Dutch, French and German speaking) has its own executive and legislative bodies, at the same hierarchical level as the federal Parliament and Government.
The (linguistic) communities are primarily responsible for cultural affairs and education, which includes most research and development (R&D) funding.
The economic and energy policy responsibilities are distributed between the federal State and the three regions.
However, policy related to the nuclear sector, the nuclear fuel cycle and R&D in both nuclear fusion and fission remains exclusively under the federal Government.
The federal Government is responsible for the following:
Security of supply;
National prospective studies;
Nuclear fuel cycle and nuclear R&D programmes;
Large stockholding installations;
Production and transmission/transport of energy (electricity grid >70 kV), including large storage infrastructure;
Transport tariffs (federal regulator Commission for the Regulation of Electricity and Gas (CREG));
Energy statistics and balances;
Offshore wind energy.
The regional competencies include:
Promotion of the efficient use of energy;
New and renewable sources of energy (not including nuclear);
Non-nuclear energy R&D;
Market regulation for distribution;
Distribution and transmission of electricity (electricity grid =70 kV);
Public distribution of natural gas;
Distribution tariffs (regional regulators Flemish Regulation Entity for Electricity and Gas markets (VREG), Walloon Commission for Energy (CWaPE) and Commission for Energy Regulation in the Brussels Capital Region (BRUGEL);
District heating equipment and networks;
Recovery of waste energy from industry or other uses;
Regional energy statistics and balances.
At the federal level, energy matters are handled by the Directorate-General for Energy, which is a part of the Federal Public Service (FPS) Economy, SMEs, Self-Employed and Energy (SMEs refers to small and medium sized enterprises); environmental issues are handled by the FPS Health, Food Chain Safety and Environment; while the FPS Mobility and Transport is responsible for most matters which relate to the mobility related use of energy.
At the end of 2019, Belgium submitted to the European Commission its final ten year integrated national energy and climate plan (NECP) under the Regulation on the Governance of the Energy Union and Climate Action (EU/2018/1999), indicating the most important objectives and measures for energy and climate policy for the period 2021 2030.
1.1.2. Estimated available energy
Table 1 shows estimated available energy by source.
TABLE 1. ESTIMATED AVAILABLE ENERGY SOURCES
|Estimated available energy sources|
|Total amount in specific units*||0||0||0||0||<0.1||<0.1|
|Total amount in exajoules (EJ)||0||0||0||0||<0.1||<0.1|
* Solid, liquid: million tonnes; gas: billion m3; uranium: metric tonnes; hydro, renewable: TW.
Note: Solid and gas reserves are not economically exploitable.
Source: FPS Economy DG Energy (&EMES@economie.fgov.be).
1.1.3. Energy consumption statistics
Table 2 contains selected energy statistics.
TABLE 2. ENERGY STATISTICS
|Final Energy consumption [PJ]||2000||2005||2010||2015||2020||Compound
rate 2000 2020 (%)
|Total||1 808||1 796||1 804||1 753||1 626||-0.53|
|Coal, Lignate and Peat||177||116||89||94||75||-4.24|
|Bioenergy and Waste||22||32||69||74||89||7.17|
a Latest available official data.
b Energy consumption = Primary energy consumption + Net import (Import Export) of secondary energy.
c Solid fuels include coal, lignite.
d : Data not available.
Source: FPS Economy DG Energy (&EMES@economie.fgov.be).
1.2 THE ELECTRICITY SYSTEM
1.2.1. Electricity system and decision making process
Owing to the fact that Belgium is a federal State with energy responsibilities distributed between the federal State and the regions, the Belgian electricity market is subdivided into a Flemish, Walloon and Brussels market, with each of these markets being only partly dependent on the legal framework of the federal level.
As part of its duties, Belgium's high voltage transmission system operator Elia Transmission Belgium (ELIA) drew up a multiannual plan for the development of the federal transmission grid in 2015. It did so in partnership with the Belgian Directorate-General for Energy and the Federal Planning Bureau.
The development plan covers a ten year period (2015 2025); is compatible with the European Network of Transmission System Operators for Electricity (ENTSO-E) Ten Year Network Development Plan (2014 2024); and takes account of the latest prospective study carried out by the Directorate-General for Energy in cooperation with the Federal Planning Bureau (in French).
Belgium has been also reinforcing interconnection capacities with its neighbours:
ALEGrO, a 90 km high voltage direct current (HVDC) link with a bidirectional rated power of approximately 1 000 MW capacity and the first interconnection between Belgium (Lixhe) and Germany (Oberzier) was launched in November 2020.
The 1 GW HVDC NEMO Link interconnector between the United Kingdom and Belgium commenced commercial operations on 31 January 2019.
The BRABO project is upgrading the high voltage grid and improving security of supply at the Port of Antwerp and is part of greater efforts to upgrade Belgium's electricity grid and to increase import capacity from the Netherlands.
1.2.2. Structure of the electric power sector
Each region has its own regulatory institution for electricity and gas markets: VREG, CWaPE and BRUGEL. The three regional regulators are responsible for the licensing and regulation of the distribution of natural gas and electricity, the transmission of electricity up to 70 kV, technical regulations for the management and extension of natural gas networks, the monitoring of retail market competition in the regional electricity and gas markets and the green certificate schemes, the arbitration of grid access disputes, and the advising of the respective regional governments.
The federal regulator for the electricity and gas markets is CREG. This commission advises public authorities on the functions of the electricity market and monitors the application of related laws and regulations. It also regulates and licenses electricity transmission above 70 kV, approves transmission tariffs and monitors the wholesale market at the national level. The operating costs of CREG are covered by licensing fees and levies on electricity and natural gas.
The four Belgian regulators for electricity and gas launched a structural consultative process in the framework of the Forum of Belgian Energy Regulators (FORBEG). It is an informal platform for discussion and voluntary collaboration and information exchange between the regulators, with a plenary session and several working groups focusing on the following issues: technical questions, information, complaints, green power, tariffs and strategy.
The management of the Belgian electricity transmission system, on the other hand, is overseen by a single transmission system operator (TSO): ELIA.
According to Article 8 of the Law of 29 April 1999 on the organization of the electricity market, ELIA has sole responsibility for operating, maintaining and developing the high voltage transmission system, including interconnections to other grids, in order to ensure continuity of supply.
The legal separation between companies involved in production, transmission and distribution of electricity was completed in 2007 and both the TSO ELIA and the regional distribution system operators (DSOs) are fully legally unbundled from supply/production companies. Each DSO has a monopoly over the territory in which it operates.
The DSOs, which are owned by municipal shareholders, are the following:
ORES, RESA, R'seau d nergies de Wavre, AIESH and AIEG in Wallonia;
SIBELGA in the Brussels Capital Region;
FLUVIUS in Flanders, since the merger of EANDIS and INFRAX on 1 July 2018.
SYNERGRID, the Belgian Federation of Electricity and Gas Network Operators, represents the common interests of the transmission system operators ELIA and FLUXYS (for gas) and the DSOs.
FEBEG is the 33 member association of Belgian electricity and gas companies (i.e., electricity generators, traders and shippers of electricity and gas, electricity and gas suppliers and suppliers of energy services).
FEBELIEC, the Federation of Belgian Industrial Energy Consumers, represents the industrial energy consumers in Belgium on issues of energy and climate politics on the Belgian and European level.
AGORIA is the employers federation which brings together and defends the interests of companies in the technology industry, including nuclear technology.
ELECTRABEL, a wholly owned subsidiary of ENGIE, has the dominant position on the Belgian market. The Tihange and Doel NPPs are operated by Electrabel, though EDF Belgium owns 50% of Tihange Unit 1 (450 MW) and its subsidiary Luminus has a stake of 10.2% in four other nuclear reactors (Tihange 2 and 3 and Doel 3 and 4).
1.2.3. Main indicators
By the end of 2020, some 25 702 MW of electricity generation capacity was installed in Belgium, including 5 575 MW of photovoltaic, 4 681 MW of wind (2 419 MW onshore and 2 262 MW offshore) and 5 942 MW of nuclear (Table 3).
Electricity production amounted to 89.4 TW?h in 2020, or 4.5% lower than in 2019. Nuclear plants produced 34.4 TW?h in 2020, 38.5% of total generation, a significant decrease of 9.1 TW?h over 2019.
Monthly data on Belgium's electricity generation and consumption are available on the web sites of the FPS Economy (in French) and of ELIA, which provides data on generation, generating facilities and unavailability announced by generators for plants connected to the ELIA grid. Annual data are available on the website of the FPS Economy (in English).
TABLE 3. INSTALLED CAPACITY, ELECTRICITY PRODUCTION AND CONSUMPTION
|Electricity production (GWh)||2000||2005||2010||2015||2020||Compound
rate 2000 2020 (%)
|Total||84 012||86 759||94 934||69 370||88 902||0.28|
|Coal, Lignate and Peat||16 030||10 493||5 955||4 111||1 877||-10.17|
|Natural gas||15 977||22 849||31 420||22 027||26 773||2.61|
|Bioenergy and Waste||1 336||2 250||5 689||6 861||6 503||8.23|
|Hydro||1 699||1 604||1 668||1 418||1 315||-1.27|
|Nuclear||48 157||47 595||47 944||26 103||34 435||-1.66|
|Wind||16||227||1 292||5 574||12 764||39.67|
|Solar||0||1||560||3 056||5 105||0.00|
* Latest available official data.
** Electricity transmission losses are not deducted.
n.a.: Data not available.
1 Net maximum electrical capacity.
2 Gross production.
3 Final consumption (observed).
Source: FPS Economy DG Energy (&EMES@economie.fgov.be).
Yearly electricity demand demonstrated a steady decrease from 86 TW?h in 2006 to around 81 TW?h in 2020. The maximum peak load in 2020 was 13 344 MW.
In general, Belgium has been a net power importer since the beginning of the 1990s except for 2009, 2019 and 2020. In 2020, net exports totalled 0.3 TW?h.
TABLE 4. ENERGY RELATED RATIOS
|Final Energy consumption [PJ]||2000||2005||2010||2015||2020||2021*|
* Latest available official data.
** Net import/Total energy consumption.
Source: FPS Economy DG Energy (&EMES@economie.fgov.be).
2. NUCLEAR POWER SITUATION
2.1 HISTORICAL DEVELOPMENT AND CURRENT ORGANIZATIONAL STRUCTURE
Nuclear power development in Belgium began after the conclusion of World War II, and Belgium led in adopting nuclear technology for peaceful purposes in the early 1960s. For many years, Belgium's nuclear industry covered almost all activities in the nuclear fuel cycle.
The Belgian Nuclear Research Centre (SCK CEN) was created in 1952. After commissioning the Belgian Reactor 1 (BR1) research reactor and the material testing reactor BR2 in Mol, BR3 was the first pressurized water reactor (PWR) in Western Europe. BR3 went critical for the first time on 19 August 1962 and was connected to the electricity grid on 25 October of the same year. On 30 June 1987, BR3 was also the first PWR in Europe to be shut down.
In the neighbouring town of Dessel, the Eurochemic spent fuel reprocessing pilot plant was in operation from 1966 to 1974.
After the commissioning of BR3 at SCK CEN in 1962 and an early 305 MW PWR designed by Westinghouse in cooperation with France (Chooz A) in 1966, development of nuclear power for commercial utilization took off in Belgium with the decision to build the NPPs Doel (in Flanders) and Tihange (in Wallonia).
Doel 1 and 2 were ordered in 1968, and Tihange 1 was ordered in 1969. Commercial development was accelerated by the 1970s oil crisis, which led to the construction of four more nuclear reactors. By 1985, seven nuclear power units all PWRs had been connected to the electricity grid, with a total net generating capacity of (then) 5 824.5 MW.
Main Historical Milestones
|1949 ||Government of Belgium grants purchasing priority of the uranium resources in Congo to the governments of the United Kingdom and the United States of America. |
|1952 ||The Belgian Government establishes STK-CEAEN, the Research Centre for Nuclear Energy Applications (Studiecentrum voor de Toepassingen van Kernenergie Centre d Etudes pour les Applications de l Energie nucl aire; the name would be changed to SCK CEN in 1957). |
|1956 ||Commissioning of BR1 by STK-CEAEN. |
|1957 ||Belgian engineers take part in the commissioning of the first commercial nuclear plant in the United States of America. |
|1957 ||STK-CEAEN name changed to SCK CEN (Studiecentrum voor Kernenergie Centre d Etude de l Energie Nucl aire Belgian Nuclear Research Centre). |
|1957 ||Foundation of Belgonucleaire (mixed oxide (MOX) production and radwaste treatment and conditioning). |
|1957 ||Foundation of Eurochemic, international cooperation by 13 European countries sharing their knowledge in recovering and reprocessing spent fuel. |
|1960 ||Franco-Belgian convention and creation of SENA (Soci t d nergie nucl aire franco-belge des Ardennes): the principle was that everything from funding to studies and energy production should be shared equally. |
|1960 ||Start of the construction of the Eurochemic reprocessing plant. |
|1960 ||First supply of plutonium to Belgium by the United States of America. |
|1961 ||Commissioning of BR2 by SCK CEN. |
|1962 ||Commissioning of the BR3 PWR prototype plant (11 MW(e)) for SCK CEN. This reactor was the first PWR built outside the United States of America. |
|1963 ||Researchers introduce plutonium enriched fuel rods into BR3. |
|1964 ||Commissioning of the VENUS research reactor (Vulcan Experimental Nuclear Study). |
|1965 ||Creation of Synatom (Syndicate for the design of large capacity nuclear power plants). |
|1966 ||Commissioning of the Franco-Belgian Chooz A NPP, then the world's most powerful PWR (305 MW). |
|1966 ||Decision to build Doel and Tihange NPPs (Doel 1 and 2 ordered in 1968, Tihange 1 in 1969). |
|1966 ||Start-up of the installations of Eurochemic. |
|1969 ||A Nuclear Safety Department (AVN) was set up within the Association Vin otte, immediately put in charge of the regulatory control of the Doel and Tihange NPPs. |
|1971 ||Creation of the Institute for Radioelements (IRE). |
|1972 ||Joint fast breeder programme with Germany and the Netherlands (Kalkar NPP). |
|1973||Creation of FBFC (Franco-Belge de Fabrication du Combustible) nuclear fuel production company. |
|1973 ||Oil crisis and decision to build four more nuclear units: Doel 3 and 4, Tihange 2 and 3 (ordered in 1974). |
|1974 ||End of the reprocessing activities of Eurochemic. |
|1974 ||SCK CEN launches a research programme on storing radioactive waste deeply underground. |
|1974 ||Commissioning of Doel 1 (Unit 1 of Doel NPP). |
|1975 ||Commissioning of Doel 2 and Tihange 1 nuclear power units. |
|1976 ||Takeover of Eurochemic by the Government of Belgium with the intention for it to provide supply for domestic needs only. |
|1977 ||Synatom becomes a nuclear fuel management company (Belgian company for nuclear fuel). |
|1980 ||Creation of ONDRAF/NIRAS, the National Agency for Radioactive Waste and Enriched Fissile Materials (Law of 8 August 1980, amended by the Law of 11 January 1991). |
|1981 ||The Belgian Nuclear Safety Authority, made up of two services, the SSTIN and the SPRI, is created by royal decree. |
|1982 ||Commissioning of Doel 3 and Tihange 2 nuclear power units. |
|1984 ||Foundation of Belgoprocess (which at the time stood for Belgium reprocessing), as a subsidiary of Synatom. |
|1985 ||Government decision to shut down Eurochemic permanently. |
|1985 ||Exhaustive backfitting process for Doel 1 and 2 and Tihange 1 nuclear power units.|
|1985||Commissioning of Doel 4 and Tihange 3 nuclear power units.|
|1986 ||Architectural engineering companies Electrobel and TractioneL merge to create Tractebel. |
|1986 ||SCK CEN is involved in the measurements following the accident at the Chornobyl NPP. |
|1986 ||Transfer of the Belgoprocess shares to ONDRAF/NIRAS. |
|1986 ||Beginning of industrial production of MOX fuel by Belgonucleaire at the Dessel plant. |
|1987 ||Start of decommissioning studies for Eurochemic. |
|1987 ||The BR3 PWR is closed down. This leads to the immediate launch of the first western European research programme into the dismantling of this type of nuclear reactor. |
|1988 ||The construction of an eighth unit (N8) of 1400 MW (50% EDF) indefinitely postponed by the Government. |
|1989 ||Start of the decommissioning of Eurochemic. |
|1989 ||Construction of a centralized treatment facility to process low level radwaste from Belgium (CILVA). |
|1990 ||Construction of a storage unit for conditioned high and medium level waste (Building 136). |
|1990 ||Private electricity producers Intercom, EBES and UNERG merge to create Electrabel. |
|1991 ||Decommissioning (by EDF) of Chooz A NPP. |
|1993 ||First steam generator replacement in Belgium at Doel 3 NPP. |
|1993 ||The first Belgian Parliament debate on reprocessing and use of MOX fuel led to the suspension of the reprocessing contract signed between Synatom and COG MA in 1991. The active reprocessing contract signed in 1978 could be further carried out, but no new reprocessing contracts could be signed. From 1993, both options for the back end of the fuel cycle are to be considered on an equal basis and must be assessed in detail during the next five years. The authorization to use MOX in Belgian NPPs is granted in order to consume plutonium obtained from past and active reprocessing contracts for Belgian spent fuel. |
|1994 ||Royal decree authorizing the loading of MOX fuel in Doel 3 and Tihange 2 reactors. |
|1994 ||Promulgation of the law with respect to the Federal Agency for Nuclear Control (FANC/AFCN). |
|1995 ||First loading of MOX fuel in Tihange 2 (March) and Doel 3 (June) NPPs. |
|1995 ||Commissioning of the dry interim spent fuel storage facility on the Doel NPP site.|
|1995 ||Creation of the cooperative company CPTE (Company for Coordination and Transmission of Electrical Energy) by Electrabel (91.5%) and SPE (8.5%).|
|1995 ||An economic interest grouping (EIG PRACLAY, later renamed EIG EURIDICE) is created, involving SCK CEN and ONDRAF/NIRAS, to carry out feasibility studies for the disposal of high level and long-lived radioactive waste in clay layers. |
|1996 ||BR2 undergoes a major campaign of modernization and refurbishment. |
|1997 ||Commissioning of the wet interim spent fuel storage facility on the Tihange NPP site.|
|1997 ||In April, ONDRAF/NIRAS presents various options for the final disposal of low level and short-lived waste to the authorities. |
The Law of 12 December 1997 defines a new mission for ONDRAF/NIRAS (i.e., to establish the inventory of all nuclear facilities and sites containing radioactive waste and assess the decommissioning and site remediation costs).
|1998 ||In January, the Government of Belgium decides on a new approach for the search for disposal sites for low level and short-lived radioactive waste based on participative methods; it limits the research to existing nuclear zones or areas where the municipalities have shown interest. |
In December, the Government of Belgium orders the cancellation of the reprocessing contract signed in 1991 between Synatom and COG MA and suspended in 1993. It postpones the debate about spent fuel management for a year pending the results of ongoing technical and economic studies. The Government's decision does not ban further reprocessing of spent fuel from Belgium but forbids Synatom to conclude a new contract without its formal approval.
|1998 ||The Multipurpose Hybrid Research Reactor for High Tech Applications (MYRRHA) research project begins. |
|1999 ||In February, the Government appoints the expert commission AMPERE (Commission d Analyse des Modes de Production d lectricit et de Red ploiement des nergies) to assess the electricity demand and the options for the future of power generation in Belgium in the 21st century. |
|1999 ||Law of 29 April 1999 on the organization of the electricity market (The Electricity Act). |
|1999 ||In July, the Government announces the closure of all Belgian NPPs when they reach their 40-year lifetime and introduces a moratorium on reprocessing. |
|1999 ||SCK CEN removes the reactor vessel from BR3. |
|2000 ||In April, the first 28 containers with vitrified high level radwaste, resulting from the reprocessing of spent fuel from Belgium in La Hague (France), are returned to Belgium. The second repatriation takes place in November. |
|2000 ||In December, the economic interest grouping European Underground Research Infrastructure for Disposal of Nuclear Waste in Clay Environment (EURIDICE) between ONDRAF/NIRAS and SCK CEN was created to replace EIG PRACLAY. EIG EURIDICE is now responsible for the management and operation of the underground research laboratory High Activity Disposal Experimental Site (HADES) and the realization of the PRACLAY project. |
|2000||In December, the Commission AMPERE publishes a report more than a thousand pages long, containing, among its key messages, its recommendations to keep the nuclear option open. The report would be evaluated by a group of five international experts selected by the Government.|
|2001 ||In February, repatriation of the third batch of containers with vitrified high level radwaste resulting from the reprocessing of spent fuel from Belgium in La Hague (France). |
|2001 ||In May, the group of five international experts publish the conclusions of its evaluation of the report of the Commission AMPERE. The experts corroborate the standpoints of the Commission AMPERE on many points, in particular the preservation of the national know-how regarding nuclear energy.|
|2001 ||During the outage of Tihange 2 from 9 June to 11 August, the three steam generators are successfully replaced. The steam generator replacement itself is executed in a new record time of 17.5 days.|
|2001 ||In September, the FANC/AFCN, established by the Law of 15 April 1994, becomes operational, incorporating the former SSTIN and the SPRI. |
|2001 ||SCK CEN launches the Master's Degree Course in Nuclear Engineering in collaboration with five universities in Belgium. |
|2001 ||In December, an agreement is obtained between the Government of Belgium and the electricity sector on financing the dismantling of old nuclear installations at the sites of Eurochemic (BP1) and the former Waste Department of SCK CEN (BP2), and on the management of the provisions for spent fuel disposal and dismantling of Belgium's nuclear power stations.|
|2002 ||In February and September, repatriation of the fourth and fifth batches of containers with vitrified high level radwaste, resulting from the reprocessing of Belgium's spent fuel in La Hague (France). |
|2002 ||In July, the SAFIR 2 report (Safety Assessment and Feasibility Interim Report) on high level radwaste disposal in Belgium is presented by ONDRAF/NIRAS to the competent federal authorities. The report confirms Boom clay as a potential host formation, as well as the technical feasibility of the construction of an underground repository in this clay. The report is peer reviewed by the Nuclear Energy Agency of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD/NEA). |
|2002 ||Belgonucleaire surpasses cumulative production of 500 tonnes of MOX fuel. |
|2003 ||Law of 31 January 2003 on the gradual phasing out of nuclear energy for the industrial production of electricity. |
|2003 ||ONDRAF/NIRAS submits to the Government the first inventory report of all nuclear sites or facilities containing radioactive substances in Belgium. |
|2003 ||Law of 11 April 2003, regulating the provisions for decommissioning of Belgium's NPPs and for the management of spent fuel from these NPPs and establishing the Commission for Nuclear Provisions. |
|2003 ||In the same month, the general assemblies of Electrabel and SPE agreed to split their joint venture CPTE with retroactive effect to 1 January 2003. |
|2003 ||In September, repatriation of the sixth batch of containers with vitrified high level radwaste, resulting from the reprocessing of Belgium's spent fuel in La Hague (France). |
|2005 ||Decision to close the MOX factory (Belgonucleaire) in Dessel. |
|2006 ||SCK CEN undergoes a reorganization process which leads to the creation of three scientific institutes. Each institute researches a specific field of nuclear applications. A fourth institute becomes responsible for communications, support services and administration. |
The Institute for Nuclear Material Sciences conducts research into materials and fuels for current and future nuclear systems.
The Institute for Advanced Nuclear Systems develops technological knowledge on innovative nuclear reactors.
The Institute for Environment, Health and Safety safeguards the health and safety of humans and the environment for various applications of radioactivity, including the back end of the fuel cycle.
|2006 ||The last fabrication campaign at Belgonucleaire is completed on 15 August. |
|2007 ||In September, the FANC/AFCN creates a subsidiary, a foundation of private law, called Bel V. |
|2008 ||On 14 April, the regulatory activities of AVN, as well as the concerned staff, are transferred to Bel V. Since that day, this subsidiary of the FANC/AFCN constitutes the technical safety organization of the Belgian Nuclear Safety Authority. |
|2008 ||Completion of the first phase of the decommissioning of Eurochemic. |
|2008 ||The BR3 reactor chimney is demolished: an important step in the dismantling process. |
|2009 ||SCK CEN coordinates Belgium's research on fusion within the broader approach to nuclear fusion. |
|2010 ||Start of dismantling work of Belgonucleaire (main contractors: Tecnubel N.V., THV Belgoprocess/SCK CEN and Studsvik GmbH; project manager: Tractebel). |
|2010 ||GUINEVERE is inaugurated at SCK CEN; one step forward in the research on accelerator driven systems. With the European GUINEVERE project, SCK CEN realizes the world's first demonstration model of an accelerator driven system with a complete lead core. |
The federal Government announces financial support for the MYRRHA project. Europe views MYRRHA as a priority research infrastructure project for energy security and the fight against climate change.
|2010 ||SCK CEN celebrates 35 years of fusion research. |
|2011 ||In the aftermath of the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi NPP, SCK CEN offers support activities in areas such as analysis, measurements and technical advice. |
|2011 ||Stoppage of FBFC. |
|2012||At its 60th anniversary, SCK CEN establishes the Academy for Nuclear Science and Technology. The Academy combines all education and training activities. |
|2012 ||Doel NPP, Unit 3: Temporary stoppage from 1 June 2012 until 5 June 2013. |
Tihange NPP, Unit 2: Temporary stoppage from 17 August 2012 until 7 June 2013.
|2012 ||On 4 July, the federal Government decides on a timetable for the nuclear power phasing out between 2015 and 2025, providing for the extension by ten years of the licence of Unit 1 of Tihange NPP. |
|2013||VENUS exploitation licence for GUINEVERE published by royal decree.|
|2013 ||Law of 18 December 2013, amending the Law of 31 January 2003 on the gradual phasing out of nuclear energy for the industrial production of electricity, providing a timetable for the nuclear power phasing out between 2015 and 2025. |
|2014||Doel 3 and Tihange 2: Temporary stoppage from 26 March because of fault indications discovered in the steel reactor casings. |
|2014 ||Complete transposition of Council Directive 2011/70/EURATOM establishing a community framework for the responsible and safe management of spent fuel and radioactive waste by the Law of 3 June 2014. |
|2014||Doel 4: Temporary stoppage from 5 August to 19 December following an oil leak in the steam turbine. |
|2015||Law of 28 June 2015, amending the Law of 31 January 2003 on the gradual phasing out of nuclear energy for the industrial production of electricity in view of ensuring the security of the electricity supply, on the long-term operation (LTO) of Doel 1 and Doel 2 reactors until 15 February 2025 and 1 December 2025, respectively. |
|2015||The National Programme Committee drafts a National Programme for the Management of Spent Fuel and Radioactive Waste pursuant to the Law of 3 June 2014 which transposed Council Directive 2011/70/EURATOM of 19 July 2011. It outlines the situation on 31 December 2014 in the field of spent fuel and radioactive waste management. |
|2016||Approval of the first National Programme for the Management of Spent Fuel and Radioactive Waste. |
|2016||In July, the material testing reactor BR2 is successfully restarted after thorough maintenance and refurbishment lasting 16 months. SCK CEN takes advantage of the opportunity to invest in the extension of the irradiation capabilities of BR2, including the development of irradiation facilities allowing the irradiation of GEN IV/MYRRHA candidate materials in representative conditions. |
|2016||Belgium and Luxembourg sign a bilateral agreement for the management and final disposal of radioactive waste from Luxembourg in Belgium. This bilateral agreement was ratified by Luxembourg in 2018.|
|2017||On 17 March, the European Commission finds Belgium's plans to compensate Electrabel and EDF Belgium for potential financial risks linked to LTO of nuclear reactors Tihange 1, Doel 1 and Doel 2, in line with European Union state aid rules. |
|2018||In September, Belgium's Government decides to finance the new major research infrastructure MYRRHA for an amount of 558 million, which includes investment for construction of a 100 MeV accelerator and its target facilities (2019 2026) and R&D investment to prepare phase 2 (600 MeV accelerator) and phase 3 (subcritical reactor). |
|2020||Annulation by the Belgian Constitutional Court of the law of 28 June 2015, amending the Law of 31 January 2003 on the gradual phasing out of nuclear energy for the industrial production of electricity but granting the Belgian federal legislator until 31 December 2022 at the latest to pass a new law with an environmental impact assessment including public participation and transboundary consultation.|
|2020||Public consultation on ONDRAF/NIRAS draft plan and on the long-term management of conditioned high level radioactive and/or long-lived waste and on the environmental impact assessment accompanying the plan. |
|2020||By Royal Decree of 26 January 2020, Electrabel was granted an establishment and operating license for the Spent Fuel Storage Facility (SF2) intended for the temporary storage of spent nuclear fuel on the site of NPP Tihange. |
|2020||Royal Decree 30 September 2020 repealing the Royal Decree of 19 December 2000 recognizing SA Belgonucleaire as operator of a nuclear installation. |
|2021||By Royal Decree of 1 July 2021, Electrabel was granted an establishment and operating license for the Spent Fuel Storage Facility (SF2) intended for the temporary storage of spent nuclear fuel on the site of NPP Doel. |
2.1.2. Current organizational structure
Policy related to the nuclear sector, the nuclear fuel cycle and nuclear R&D in both nuclear fusion and fission falls under the responsibility of the FPS Economy, SMEs, Self-Employed and Energy.
Licensing, control and surveillance are the responsibility of the Federal Agency for Nuclear Control (FANC/AFCN), which is supervised by the Minister for the Interior. The FANC/AFCN has legal duties in the field of radiation protection, nuclear safety and radiological surveillance, licensing and de-licensing.
Synatom, a wholly owned subsidiary of Electrabel, is responsible for the fuel cycle front end management (i.e., supplying enriched uranium to the seven nuclear power units) as well as the fuel cycle back-end management (i.e. the management of all activities in connection with spent nuclear fuel).
Synatom is the exclusive owner (as defined by EURATOM Treaty Article 87) of the nuclear fuel from its fabrication to its transfer to the National Agency for Radioactive Waste and Fissile Materials (ONDRAF/NIRAS) when declared as radioactive waste. Hence, it is the most important owner and producer of irradiated fissile materials.
In addition, Synatom is entrusted by law with the management of the provisions for dismantling Belgium's NPPs and for the costs related to their spent fuel.
FIG. 1. Organizational chart of the nuclear sector.
CREG regulates and licenses electricity transmission above 70 kV, approves transmission tariffs and monitors the market.
ELIA is Belgium's TSO for electricity.
ONDRAF/NIRAS is entrusted by law with the safe transportation, treatment, conditioning, storage and disposal of all radioactive waste produced in the country under supervision of the Minister of Energy and the Minister of the Economy. The legislature also assigned certain responsibilities in the field of decommissioning to ONDRAF/NIRAS; it sees to it that the owners/operators create the necessary provisions for the financing of the future dismantling programme.
ONDRAF/NIRAS must work at cost price and charge those using its services radioactive waste producers no more or less than the amounts necessary to ensure the safe management of their waste, in accordance with the polluter pays principle.
ONDRAF/NIRAS also has the main responsibility for R&D on radioactive waste management and its disposal.
Since 1986, ONDRAF/NIRAS has had an industrial subsidiary, Belgoprocess, whose site in Dessel serves as ONDRAF/NIRAS's central processing and conditioning facility as well as a storage facility for conditioned waste of all categories.
Belgoprocess is active in the following three areas:
Industrial activities in the field of radioactive waste management (processing, conditioning and intermediate storage awaiting the final disposal of radioactive waste);
Dismantling of decommissioned nuclear plants, remediation of contaminated buildings and sites, decontamination of materials and structures;
Retention and development of new knowledge and know-how, execution of projects and commercial use of the know-how within these areas.
As a foundation of public utility, SCK CEN conducts research into the safety of nuclear installations, the management of radioactive waste and human and environmental protection against ionizing radiation, safeguards of strategic materials and the social implications of nuclear energy.
The National Institute for Radioelements (IRE) is a public utility foundation whose main activity is the production of radioelements used in nuclear medicine for diagnostic and therapeutic purposes. Its R&D department contributes to research in the field of radioelement production, environmental protection and radioactive waste management.
Belgonucleaire S.A. was founded in 1957 and provided nuclear engineering services in the areas of studies concerning the behaviour of nuclear fuels, the back end of the nuclear fuel cycle, and manufacturing equipment for MOX plants. It operated a MOX fuel manufacturing facility in Dessel from 1986 to 2006. The decommissioning of the site commenced in 2010 and conventional demolition was completed in 2019.
2.2 NUCLEAR POWER PLANTS: OVERVIEW
2.2.1. Status and performance of nuclear power plants
FIG. 2. Location of nuclear power plants in Belgium.(Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.)
The Belgian NPPs are in Doel (in Flanders) and Tihange (in Wallonia) (Fig. 2). All reactors are operated by Electrabel, a wholly owned subsidiary of ENGIE. BR3, a prototype PWR, was shut down on 30 June 1987 (Table 5).
TABLE 5. STATUS AND PERFORMANCE OF NUCLEAR POWER PLANTS
|Data source: IAEA - Power Reactor Information System (PRIS).|
|Note: Table is completely generated from PRIS data to reflect the latest available information and may be more up to date than the text of the report.|
On 31 January 2003, the federal Parliament passed a law codifying the national policy of Belgium to phase out nuclear energy for commercial electricity production. This law prohibits the construction of new NPPs intended for the industrial production of electricity by nuclear fission in Belgium and sets a 40-year limit on the operational period of existing plants. This legislation does not apply to nuclear research reactors.
On 4 July 2012, the Government of Belgium, while authorizing the LTO of Tihange 1 until 2025 (conditional on approval by the FANC/AFCN), confirmed this decision, and by the Law of 18 December 2013 it established a timetable for the nuclear power phase-out between 2015 and 2025.
On 18 December 2014, the federal Government confirmed the decision to phase out all nuclear power plants by 2025. However, to ensure security of supply of electricity, it allowed the Doel 1 and 2 reactors to continue operating for an additional ten years conditional on the approval of the regulator FANC/AFCN and an agreement with the operator and owner of the reactors, Electrabel until 15 February 2025 and 1 December 2025, respectively.
Considering these amendments, the timetable for the nuclear phase-out is as follows:
INTENDED NUCLEAR PHASE-OUT TIMETABLE
Start of commercial operation
15 February 1975
15 February 2025
1 December 1975
1 December 2025
1 006.0 MW(e)
1 October 1982
1 October 2022
1 033.0 MW(e)
1 July 1985
1 July 2025
1 October 1975
1 October 2025
1 008.0 MW(e)
1 February 1983
1 February 2023
1 038.0 MW(e)
1 September 1985
1 September 2025
By its direction of 5 March 2020, the Belgian Constitutional Court stated that both ten-year extensions of Doel 1 and Doel 2 operations and the nuclear safety related improvement works related to those extensions were part of a project listed in appendix I to the Espoo convention and should be subject to an environmental impact assessment (EIA) and a public consultation in line with the Espoo and Aarhus Conventions and the EIA Directives. The public consultation was organized between 15 April and 15 May 2021. If a new law allowing the ten-year extensions is not adopted by the Belgian Parliament before 31 December 2022, the Amending Act of 28 June 2015 will be cancelled.
On 18 March 2022, the federal government decided to take the necessary steps to extend the operational life of the two youngest nuclear power reactors (Tihange 3 and Doel 4) by ten years.
2.2.2. Plant upgrading, plant life management and licence renewals
The initial licences of the seven reactors were granted for an unlimited time. The safety of the nuclear installations is continuously reviewed through different processes, the most important and systematic being the series of periodic safety reviews. In addition, many other projects with important modifications have been executed, including steam generator replacements at all units, in some cases accompanied by power increases. Such major modifications to the NPPs are subject to licence amendments following a procedure similar to the initial one.
2.2.3. Permanent shutdown and decommissioning process
BR3, a prototype PWR, operational from 1962 to 1987, was shut down on 30 June 1987. SCK CEN is entrusted with its decommissioning. At present, the major components of the BR3 reactor are dismantled, and concrete cleaning work has started. The major remaining tasks are related to the demolition of the buildings. It will be the first complete decommissioning of a PWR in Europe.
TABLE 6. STATUS OF DECOMMISSIONING PROCESS OF NUCLEAR POWER PLANTS
|Reactor name||Shutdown date||Shutdown reason||Decom. strategy||Current decom. phase||Current fuel management phase||Decom. licensee||Licence terminated|
|BR-3||Jun-1987||Economic case no longer viable, Other technological reasons||Immediate dismantling & removal of all radioactive material||-||AFR-OS (Dry Storage)||CEN/SCK||2020|
2.3. FUTURE DEVELOPMENT OF THE NUCLEAR POWER SECTOR
The Law of 31 January 2003 on the nuclear power phase-out progressively phases out the production of electricity using nuclear fission energy by limiting the operation of existing reactors to 40 years and prohibits the construction of new nuclear units intended for the industrial production of electricity by nuclear fission in Belgium. Subsequently, successive governments have amended this law to ensure the security of supply of electricity, allowing for the units Tihange 1 and Doel 1 and 2 to remain operational until 2025. On 18 March 2022, the federal government decided to take the necessary steps to extend the operational life of the two youngest nuclear power reactors by ten years. .
2.3.1. Nuclear power development strategy
2.3.2. Project management
2.3.3. Project funding
2.3.4. Electric grid development
2.3.6. Public awareness
2.4. ORGANIZATIONS INVOLVED IN CONSTRUCTION OF NPPs
Tractebel is the engineering division of ENGIE and was the architectural engineer/owner's engineer for the construction of the seven Belgian nuclear power units in Doel and Tihange. It currently employs over 1 000 employees on nuclear projects in 28 countries.
The Westinghouse Electric Belgium office provides engineering support to nuclear power utilities in Europe and worldwide.
2.5. ORGANIZATIONS INVOLVED IN OPERATION OF NPPs
Electrabel, a wholly owned subsidiary of ENGIE, operates seven nuclear units: four in Doel and three in Tihange, with a total capacity of almost 6 000 MW. Electrabel owns 100% of Doel 1 and 2, 50% of Tihange 1, and 89.8% of the other four units.
Luminus, Belgium's second largest gas and electricity supplier, has a stake of 10.2% in four nuclear power units (Tihange 2 and 3 and Doel 3 and 4). EDF Belgium owns a 63.5% stake in Luminus and holds a direct 50% stake in Tihange 1.
2.6. ORGANIZATIONS INVOLVED IN DECOMMISSIONING OF NPPs
FANC/AFCN, established by the Law of 15 April 1994, is the regulatory body in charge of nuclear safety, licensing and de-licensing, under the supervision of the Minister for the Interior.
The classification of nuclear installations in Classes I to IV is defined by Article 3 of the Royal Decree of 20 July 2001, executing the Law of 15 April 1994 and laying down the General Regulations regarding the protection of the public, workers and the environment against the hazards of ionizing radiation. The decommissioning of nuclear installations belonging to the Class I facilities, as well as some belonging to the Class II facilities, is subject to prior authorization by the FANC/AFCN.
For Class I installations, the decommissioning licence is granted by a royal decree, countersigned by the minister responsible for nuclear safety and radiological protection, but the licence application must be submitted to the FANC/AFCN. For Class II installations, the licence is granted by the FANC/AFCN. The decommissioning strategy is specified by the licence applicant and submitted to the FANC/AFCN for approval.
The legislature assigned certain responsibilities in the field of decommissioning to ONDRAF/NIRAS by law. Among others, the agency must collect and to evaluate information related to the decommissioning programmes of nuclear installations, to approve those programmes, and to execute decommissioning programmes at the demand of third parties or in the case of failure of an operator. For the purpose of standardization of decommissioning planning, ONDRAF/NIRAS issued recommendations for the elaboration of decommissioning plans, following the IAEA Safety Standards, requirements and guides in the field of decommissioning. ONDRAF/NIRAS is responsible for the elaboration of an inventory of all nuclear installations and all sites containing radioactive substances within the country, including the verification of the existence of sufficient financial provisions for the execution of decommissioning and remediation programmes.
Commission for Nuclear Provisions
The Commission for Nuclear Provisions was established by the Law of 11 April 2003, regulating the provisions for the decommissioning of Belgium's NPPs and for the management of spent fuel from these NPPs, in particular regarding the existence, adequacy and availability of the provisions.
The Law of 24 December 2002 provided for the levy of an excise tax, called federal dues, which is calculated based on kW?h consumed. Part of these dues are paid to funds earmarked to finance nuclear liabilities resulting from the decommissioning of the sites of the former Eurochemic plant (BP1) and the former Waste Department of SCK CEN (BP2), as well as the treatment, processing, storage and evacuation of accumulated radioactive waste. CREG collects the amount owed as dues and transfers it to ONDRAF/NIRAS.
Founded in 1984, Belgoprocess was incorporated as a subsidiary of ONDRAF/NIRAS in 1986; it is in charge of decommissioning the shutdown nuclear facilities on the sites of the former Eurochemic plant (BP1) and the former Waste Department of SCK CEN (BP2).
Belgoprocess uses this operational expertise to offer waste management and decommissioning services to national and international clients on a commercial basis.
Synatom was entrusted by the Law of 11 April 2003 on the provisions for the decommissioning of NPPs and the management of the irradiated nuclear fuel from these plants, amended by the Law of 25 April 2007, with the management of all the provisions for the nuclear liabilities, the dismantling of the NPPs and the management of the spent fuel. The main characteristics of the applied methodology for dismantling provisions are the following:
The provision must be accrued over the life expectancy of the NPPs (as defined by the Law of 31 January 2003, i.e., 40 calendar years). The current scenario is a dismantling approach based on the dismantling of each unit separately, but in a series, and the decommissioning of the common facilities well after the decommissioning of the last unit on each site.
The initial provision is equal to the net present value of all future decommissioning expenses (based on a study performed by engineering company Tractebel).
Tractebel offers a full range of integrated concepts to assist with the safe and cost-effective decommissioning of nuclear installations. SCK CEN
SCK CEN has accumulated almost 25 years of experience in decommissioning and decontamination of reactors, hot cells, radioactive contaminated laboratories and exotic installations.
SCK CEN was entrusted with the decommissioning of BR3 and has also been strongly involved in the management of the dismantling of the Thetis research reactor at Ghent University and the dismantling of the former Belgonucleaire MOX production plant in Dessel.
The dismantling work on the Thetis reactor was completed in 2014 and the reactor was formally declared dismantled in 2015, its licence being ended by the Royal Decree of 26 December 2015. Thetis thus became the first nuclear reactor in Belgium to be declassified.
2.7. FUEL CYCLE INCLUDING WASTE MANAGEMENT
Uranium conversion and enrichment
No conversion or enrichment activities take place in Belgium.
Belgium's experience with MOX fuel goes back as early as 1963, with the loading of 12 MOX fuel rods in its pioneer BR3 PWR, though MOX fuel was only introduced in NPP units Doel 3 and Tihange 2 in 1995.
The material testing reactor BR2 and the research laboratories of SCK CEN are licensed and equipped to handle MOX fuels and have been involved in most of the international MOX research projects. SCK CEN and Belgonucleaire performed MOX fuel research and developed the Micronized Master Blend production process currently applied for almost all the MOX used in NPPs. From 1986 to 2006, Belgonucleaire operated an industrial scale MOX fuel manufacturing facility in Dessel. The plant had a yearly production capacity of 32 tonnes of MOX fuel for commercial western European light water reactors and has produced more than 600 tonnes of MOX for 21 NPPs worldwide. Production was stopped on 15 August 2006 after successive capacity increases of MOX plants in France and the United Kingdom. A decommissioning licence was granted by Royal Decree on 26 February 2008 and decommissioning operations started in 2010. Conventional demolition was completed in 2019.
FBFC (Franco-Belge de Fabrication du Combustible), a subsidiary of FRAMATOME, had a fresh fuel production capacity of 500 tonnes per year and a MOX fuel production capacity of 200 tonnes per year, to provide for fuel assemblies for pressurized as well as boiling water reactors. In May 2012, FRAMATOME (ex-AREVA) officially notified the FANC/AFCN that it would stop all its activities in the Dessel facility. The fresh fuel facility was shut down in 2012 and a dismantling licence was granted by royal decree in October 2013. Decommissioning of this facility is in its final stages. The MOX fuel fabrication facility ceased activities at the end of 2015.
Interim storage of spent fuel
Commercial spent fuel is separately stored in dedicated facilities on the sites of the NPPs (pool storage in Tihange and dry storage in Doel). At the end of 2021, the dry storage building in Doel contained 120 containers in which 3 563 spent fuel elements were stored, while the wet storage building in Tihange contained 3 275 such elements. The spent fuel of BR3 is kept in dry storage at Belgoprocess.
Reprocessing of commercial spent fuel was carried out by AREVA (formerly COG MA) in France starting in 1978, when Synatom entered into a reprocessing contract with COG MA. Also in 1978, the Government of Belgium concluded an agreement on the takeover of the Eurochemic reprocessing plant with the intention for it to supply and meet domestic needs only.
In 1984, the Government of Belgium transferred Eurochemic to Belgoprocess (which at the time stood for Belgium reprocessing), then a subsidiary of Synatom. However, in 1986, the decision was made to close the factory. The demolition of the Eurochemic reprocessing plant was completed in 2014.
In December 1993, the federal Parliament imposed a moratorium for a period of five years on further reprocessing of spent fuel. In 1998, the Council of Ministers requested Synatom not to sign any new reprocessing contract without formal approval.
Reprocessing of spent fuel of the BR2 research reactor is carried out by ORANO in France.
European Union Council Directive 2011/70/EURATOM imposed an obligation to define national policies for the safe management of all radioactive waste and spent fuel as well as to define a national programme aimed at implementing these policies. It was transposed by the Law of 3 June 2014, amending Article 179 of the Law of 8 August 1980 on the budgetary proposals for 1979 1980. Article 6 of this law created the National Programme Committee, whose members are the following:
Directorate-General for Energy, FPS Economy, SMEs, Self-employed and Energy;
In 2015, the National Programme Committee drafted a National Programme for the Management of Spent Fuel and Radioactive Waste pursuant to the Law of 3 June 2014. It outlines the situation on 31 December 2014 in the field of spent fuel and radioactive waste management.
The FANC/AFCN gave its advice on the draft on 10 April 2015, and the Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) Committee of the Federal Public Service Health, Food Chain and Environment provided its advice on 11 September 2015.
On 30 June 2016, a ministerial decree was approved, fixing the first National Programme for the Management of Spent Fuel and Radioactive Waste. This instrument serves as a strategic scoreboard for the short, medium- and long-term management of radioactive waste and spent fuel in Belgium.
Radioactive waste generated during routine operations of nuclear facilities in Belgium is processed and conditioned on-site by the operator of the relevant facility or by ONDRAF/NIRAS in central processing and storage and conditioning facilities located mainly in Dessel and managed by Belgoprocess, its industrial auxiliary subsidiary. It is responsible for the safe processing of radioactive waste produced in Belgium that cannot be handled by the producer, and for storage of this waste, pending final disposal. Foreign waste can also be processed in Belgoprocess installations, but such waste should return to the country of origin.
Belgium and Luxembourg signed a bilateral agreement for the management and final disposal of Luxembourg's radioactive waste in Belgium. This bilateral agreement was ratified by Luxembourg in 2018 and by Belgium in 2019.
Low level solid waste is either incinerated or compacted in the CILVA facility, which began industrial operation in 1994 and was certified according to the ISO 9001 quality management standard of 1995.
Low level liquid waste is treated chemically by flocculation and precipitation. After processing, the waste is encapsulated in cement in 400 litre drums and then stored inside a building designed specifically for the purpose. Bitumen was also used for this purpose until 2004. Annually, an average of 700 m of waste are supercompacted and 180 tonnes of waste are incinerated in the CILVA facility.
Since 2007, medium level and long-lived alpha bearing waste as well as plutonium-contaminated gloveboxes are encapsulated in cement in 400 litre drums in the PAMELA vitrification plan. About 1 344 m have been treated and about 748 m of conditioned waste produced up to the end of 2021.
The HRA/Solarium facility (Building 280X), built on Site 2 at Belgoprocess and put into operation at the end of February 2005, is intended for the processing and conditioning by compression and cementation of historical medium level waste and radium bearing waste. By the end of 2021, 380 m of waste had been processed in the HRA/Solarium facility.
A simplified representation of the organization of radioactive waste management in Belgium is presented in Fig. 3.
FIG. 3. Organization of radioactive waste management (source: ONDRAF/NIRAS).
Storage of low-level waste
Building 150 was commissioned in 1986 after Belgium joined the international moratorium on sea disposal of conditioned low-level waste. Capable of holding 1 929 m, it has been filled to near capacity since the end of the 1980s. At the end of 2021, it contained 1 922 m of conditioned waste, or 3 330 packages.
Building 151 was commissioned in 1988. This is a modular building, initially featuring two storage halls. Two more halls were added in 1993, increasing the total capacity from 6 300 m to 14 700 m . In 2019 a permit was issued for extra storage of conditioned waste. This resulted in an increase of capacity to a total capacity of 15 300 m . The drums are stored by means of a remotely controlled roller bridge. By the end of 2021, Building 151 housed 14 956 m of conditioned waste (36 919 packages).
In 2018, an extension of Building 151 was approved. The design of this storage building (module 151E) takes the following choices into account:
Output buffer storage for low active conditioned waste from incineration facility CILVA, pending its acceptance by ONDRAF/NIRAS;
Temporary storage of accepted low-level conditioned waste from CILVA that is considered disposable;
A capacity of approximately 5 000 400-litre drums in a pyramidal stack.
The building was commissioned by the end of 2020. By the end of 2021, this extension housed 381m of conditioned waste (954 packages).
Storage of medium level waste
Building 127 was commissioned in 1978. This building has undergone two phases of extension and adaptation, the last of which was in 1988. Since then, its total capacity has been 4 650 m , split between four bunkers of the same size with reinforced concrete walls 80 cm thick. The drums are stored by means of a remotely controlled roller bridge. At the end of 2021, 3 910 m of conditioned waste (15 987 packages) were housed in Building 127.
ONDRAF/NIRAS plans to construct a new storage building to replace Building 127 at site BP1 that complies with the most recent safety standards for the storage of radioactive waste. Concept and basic studies will be carried out in 2021 2022. Construction is expected to start in 2025.
Building 155 is a storage facility specially designed to store low level radium and plutonium bearing waste following processing and conditioning. Commissioned in 2005, it consists of two separate storage rooms: one for housing radium bearing waste and the other for plutonium bearing waste. Although it would be possible to extend its storage rooms, its capacity should be adequate for all the drums of radium and plutonium bearing waste currently in existence and for those whose production is forecast. At the end of 2021, Building 155 housed 4 107 m of conditioned waste (9 437 packages).
Buildings 270M and 270L used to be buffer storage facilities on Site 2 of Belgoprocess. At the end of 2017 they were completely dismantled.
Storage of medium and high-level waste
Building 129 was commissioned in 1985. This building has a capacity of 250 m , split between two shielded bunkers with reinforced concrete walls of 1.2 m thickness. The containers, which are handled remotely from a shielded control room, are placed in vertical steel shafts. The building contains 195 m of conditioned high-level waste from the vitrification in the PAMELA facility of liquid waste derived from the reprocessing of spent fuel in the former Eurochemic reprocessing plant. Since 1995, it has also housed medium level and high-level cemented waste from SCK CEN's BR2 and BR3 reactors and from the operation and partial decommissioning of PAMELA. Ever since, Building 129 has contained 215 m of conditioned waste (2 335 packages). Although heat emitted by waste stored in Building 129 is quite low, the storage shafts are ventilated to accelerate the dissipation of any heat being generated.
Building 136 was constructed between 1990 and 1994 and can accommodate 590 containers of high-level vitrified waste and about 1 000 m of medium level cemented or compacted waste (additional modules may, if necessary, increase its capacity). The high-level waste containers, which are handled remotely from a shielded control room, are placed in vertical steel shafts equipped with a constant ventilation system designed to dissipate the generated heat. This building is designed to resist extreme external disturbances such as earthquakes, explosions, or the crash of a military aircraft. It was built for the storage of medium level and high-level waste resulting from the reprocessing of spent fuel from Belgium's NPPs by ORANO (ex-AREVA). Medium level waste arising from the reprocessing (in Dounreay, United Kingdom) of spent fuel of the SCK CEN research reactor BR2 is also stored in Building 136. The project of returning the cemented waste from Dounreay (21 shipments) was successfully completed at the end of 2015.
At the end of 2020, 390 containers (70.20 m ) of high-level vitrified waste, 468 containers (83.16 m ) of compacted medium level waste (hulls and end fittings) repatriated from France as well as 123 drums (68.90 m ) of waste from Dounreay were stored inside this building.
Disposal of Category A waste
In 2012, ONDRAF/NIRAS filed a request to obtain a licence for a near surface disposal facility for low level and intermediate level short lived waste ( Category A ) at the municipality of Dessel with the nuclear safety authority FANC/AFCN in accordance with the conditions laid down in the decision of the federal Government of 23 June 2006.
The disposal project is integrated into a broader project that offers added value for the region, considering the concerns and aspirations of the local community. To this end two local partnerships STORA in Dessel and MONA in Mol have participated in all further steps in the decision-making process and in the development of all aspects of the integrated disposal project.
The licensing process was continued in 2021. Once the licence is granted, the repository could be in operation after four years; disposal and closure operations would last about 100 years.
Long term management of Category B and C waste
ONDRAF/NIRAS is legally obliged to prepare a plan for the long-term management of the radioactive waste under its responsibility. According to the Law of 13 February 2006 (which transposes European Commission Directives 2001/42/EC and 2003/35/EC into Belgian legislation), this plan must be accompanied by a SEA and submitted for public consultation.
R&D activities related to geological disposal are carried out in an extensive international and bilateral framework. ONDRAF/NIRAS is active in several international organizations, including the IAEA and the Nuclear Energy Agency of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD/NEA). ONDRAF/NIRAS is heavily involved in the European Technology Platform Implementing Geological Disposal (IGD-TP).
EIG EURIDICE, which stands for Economic Interest Grouping European Underground Research Infrastructure for Disposal of nuclear waste in a Clay Environment, is a joint venture between ONDRAF/NIRAS and SCK CEN. EURIDICE manages and operates the underground research laboratory known as High Activity Disposal Experimental Site (HADES), where experts develop and test industrial technologies for building, operating and sealing a waste repository in deep clay.
Although an extensive R&D programme assessing the use of clay formations as potential host rock for the disposal of low activity or medium activity long lived waste ( Category B ) and high activity short lived or long-lived waste ( Category C ) started in 1974, no national policy decision relating to the long-term management of those waste categories has been taken yet. In this context, ONDRAF/NIRAS has taken the initiative to compile in an integrated document, the Waste Plan for the Long-Term Management of High Level and/or Long-Lived Radioactive Waste, all elements necessary to enable the Government to take, with full knowledge of the facts, a decision in principle regarding the long-term management of Category B and C waste. The waste plan is accompanied by an SEA in which alternative long term management options to disposal in clay have been assessed. The assessment not only covers environmental impacts but also the scientific and technical bases of the various options, the economic aspects and attendant ethical and social considerations.
The final waste plan, including the results of the public consultation and the accompanying documents, was adopted by the Board of Directors of ONDRAF/NIRAS on 23 September 2011.
Moreover, ONDRAF/NIRAS committed itself to the following:
Ensuring the reversibility of the disposal facility's operations and examining such measures as are likely to facilitate the potential recuperation of the waste after complete or partial closure of the disposal unit;
Maintaining control functions over the proper operations of the disposal system that will be additional to the regulatory control;
Preparing as efficiently and effectively as possible the transfer to future generations of the knowledge linked to the disposal facility and the waste contained in it.
ONDRAF/NIRAS also recommended creating an independent monitoring body to ascertain that the decision-making procedure progresses as scheduled.
The waste plan formed the basis for establishing the proposal of national policy and the national programme on the long-term management of Category B and C waste, as requested by the Law of 3 June 2014 transposing the Council Directive 2011/70/EURATOM.
The proposal, which, together with the accompanying environmental impact report, is currently under discussion, is undergoing a legal procedure which requires the advice of several official bodies in addition to public consultation. The public consultation was organized from 15 April to 13 June 2020.
Whatever the option for the long-term management of Category B and C waste, the implementation of the technical solution chosen is bound to be a long, step by step, open and participative process that will probably take several decades before the selected solution becomes operational.
From a scientific and technical perspective, the construction of a geological repository facility would take 10 15 years after the granting of a licence. Likely, it will take up to a century from the start of construction of the repository to its complete closure.
SCK CEN launched an R&D programme on partitioning and transmutation of high-level waste through the accelerator driven system route, pioneered by MYRRHA, in a European framework. The purpose is to analyse the feasibility from technical, economical, and industrial points of view of such a technology within a European Union strategy. MYRRHA could offer an opportunity to optimize geological disposal through transmutation of long-lived radioactive substances into less toxic, shorter lived radioactive substances. It is considered a priority European research infrastructure.
2.8. RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT
Policy related to the nuclear sector, the nuclear fuel cycle and nuclear R&D in both nuclear fusion and fission is the exclusive responsibility of Belgium's federal Government. Nuclear research and development in Belgium are coordinated by the FPS Economy, SMEs, Self-Employed and Energy.
Although it has decided to phase out the production of electricity by nuclear fission energy, the Government of Belgium acknowledges the importance of continuing to invest in nuclear research to support the safe operation of NPPs in Europe and the development of sustainable solutions for the management of radioactive waste and the decommissioning and dismantling of NPPs and nuclear installations to avoid unnecessary burdens for future generations.
Belgium intends to remain a major player in key areas such as nuclear medicine and radioisotope production, research into new materials, particle accelerators, and the challenging but promising domain of the transmutation of high-level waste.
Federal Government funding for nuclear fission and fusion research has more than doubled since the global economic crisis of 2008. The share of R&D on light water reactors (SCK CEN), however, declined from almost a third to 15%. Roughly 25% of the R&D budget is spent, each time, on nuclear waste management (ONDRAF/NIRAS), nuclear supporting technologies (SCK CEN) and on the new research infrastructure project MYRRHA, developed by SCK CEN. Finally, nearly 6 million per year are destined for nuclear fusion.
Belgium will also continue to work on the development of nuclear fusion energy in collaboration with the European Atomic Energy Community (EURATOM) and the other Member States in the implementation of the European action plan Fusion Electricity, A Roadmap to the Realization of Fusion Energy.
In the field of medical radioisotopes, Belgium's federal Government supports the IRE project Source of MedicAl RadioisoTopes (SMART). This project aims to develop an alternative technology to produce molybdenum-99, using an electron beam accelerator. By excluding the use of fissile uranium, this innovative system could reduce radioactive waste by a factor of 100 and considerably shorten its lifetime, while contributing to the worldwide security of supply of radioisotopes.
2.8.1. R&D organizations
The leading institutions in nuclear R&D include the following:
The Belgian Nuclear Research Centre (SCK CEN);
The Institute for Radioelements (IRE);
The National Agency for Radioactive Waste and Enriched Fissile Materials (ONDRAF/NIRAS);
The Royal Military Academy;
Research is also being carried out by the Federal Agency for Nuclear Control (FANC/AFCN) and its technical support organisation Bel V; by industry; and through participation in international programmes.
Most of the nuclear research in Belgium is carried out at SCK CEN, which also provides training and other services to the nuclear industry, the medical sector and the authorities, and promotes public awareness of nuclear technology. The nuclear research by SCK CEN is mainly aimed at reactor safety experiments, innovative fuel cycles and partitioning and transmutation, advanced nuclear systems, radioactive waste disposal, decommissioning, radiation protection, and health physics and medical and space applications.
Research on the safety of nuclear power plants is performed in collaboration with FANC/AFCN and industrial partners such as ENGIE (Electrabel, Laborelec and Tractebel).
ONDRAF/NIRAS has the main responsibility for R&D on radioactive waste management and its disposal, but most of this research is done in cooperation with SCK CEN.
2.8.2. Development of advanced nuclear power technologies
Since 1998, SCK CEN has been developing the nuclear research infrastructure Multipurpose Hybrid Research Reactor for High Tech Applications (MYRRHA), based on the concept of an accelerator driven system for the necessary research into innovative solutions for high level radioactive waste, the qualification of fusion reactor materials and fundamental nuclear physics research. One of MYRRHA's long term objectives is to investigate transmutation of high-level radioactive waste. Transmutation aims to reduce its long-term radiotoxicity by a factor of 1 000 and to shorten its radiotoxicity timeframe from 300 000 to 300 years, which is a timeframe that can be technologically controlled and offers a real benefit in terms of both safety and economic cost.
The MYRRHA project consists of three phases:
Phase 1 is the design and construction of the 100 megaelectron volt linear accelerator and its experimental stations, which will be able to function independently from 2026.
Phase 2 consists of the extension of the first linear accelerator to 600 megaelectron volt. This extension would be required to drive the subcritical reactor and could be completed in 2033.
Phase 3 is the construction of the subcritical reactor, which could be commissioned in 2036.
In September 2018, Belgium's federal Government committed to finance Phase 1 of the project for an amount of 558 million, which includes R&D to prepare for Phase 2 and pre-licensing of the subcritical reactor. An international non-profit organization has been set up to invite international partners into this project. A decision on Phases 2 and 3 will be taken in 2026.
MYRRHA has been identified within the European Strategy Forum on Research Infrastructures (ESFRI) roadmap and within the European Sustainable Nuclear Industrial Initiative (ESNII) of the Sustainable Nuclear Energy Technology Platform (SNETP) in support of the European Strategic Energy Technology Plan (SET Plan). MYRRHA will be a subcritical assembly driven by a high-power proton accelerator that generates the primary neutrons by means of spallation reactions in the centre of the core to trigger fission reactions in the subcritical core. As well as being able to produce radioisotopes, MYRRHA's research functions would be particularly well suited to investigate transmutation and to demonstrate the efficient operation of the concept of an accelerator driven system at a pre-industrial scale. Transmutation of long-lived radioactive substances into less toxic, shorter lived radioactive substances could offer an opportunity to optimize geological disposal.
2.8.3. International cooperation and initiatives
Belgium is active in several international nuclear organizations, including the IAEA and the OECD/NEA, as well as other bilateral and multilateral organizations such as the World Association of Nuclear Operators (WANO).
SCK CEN is the coordinator of the Belgian Support Programme to the IAEA for safeguards. It also executes most tasks of the Support Programme. Among these tasks, the most important contributions relate to the development of safeguards approaches for geological repositories and the accelerator driven system MYRRHA. Moreover, SCK CEN makes available its facilities and experts for calibration of IAEA equipment and courses to IAEA safeguards inspectors, helping the IAEA to better perform the safeguards inspections in the framework of the Non-Proliferation Treaty and Additional Protocol.
Belgium participates in the International Energy Agency Technology Collaboration Programmes focusing on fusion indirectly through EURATOM.
As a Member State of the EU's Joint Undertaking for ITER and the Development of Fusion Energy and a voluntary contributor to the Broader Approach between the EU and Japan, Belgium contributes to the development of fusion energy, mainly through the Belgian Fusion Association.
2.9. HUMAN RESOURCES DEVELOPMENT
Belgium pioneered academic learning in the nuclear field through the creation of the Belgian Nuclear Higher Education Network (BNEN) in 2002. BNEN is a master-after-master academic programme in nuclear engineering, organized through a consortium of six Belgian universities and SCK CEN. The lectures are taught in English at the premises of SCK CEN. The modular approach also facilitates the participation of foreign students. The laboratory exercises make use of the nuclear facilities of SCK CEN and are organized by SCK CEN scientists. It served as a role model for the foundation of the European Nuclear Education Network (ENEN).
The SCK CEN Academy for Nuclear Science and Technology was founded in 2012. It contributes to academic learning through collaboration with all Belgian universities and several universities abroad and contributes to numerous international courses. Among them are the European Master in Radiation Biology, the European Master in Radiation Protection, and several Erasmus exchange programmes.
In addition to academic learning, the SCK CEN Academy also provides customized training courses aimed at improving the knowledge, skills, and attitudes of nuclear workers from industry, the medical sector, research organizations and governmental institutions dealing with applications of radioactivity.
Furthermore, SCK CEN Academy organizes scientific events such as conferences and workshops dealing with education and training, like the Education and Training in Radiation Protection (ETRAP) conference series, the workshops of the Platform on European Training and Education in Radiation Protection (EUTERP) and the SCK CEN Topical Days.
2.10. STAKEHOLDER INVOLVEMENT
Belgium's nuclear industry created a federation under the name NUCLEAIR FORUM. The mission of this federation is to contribute to a high-quality discussion on the future of the nuclear industry. Its main goal is to provide factual and practical information on the nuclear industry and its many applications as well as to bring answers to the legitimate questions that are being asked.
Belgoprocess organizes visits to its processing, conditioning and interim storage facilities for the press, professional visitors and occasionally the public. It also publishes an annual report and information leaflets on its activities.
SCK CEN shares its expertise in an active way as an accessible and reliable source of (scientific) information for (local) authorities, the industry, the media and the general public. SCK CEN offers information about its activities and the results of its research through a variety of publications and dedicated web sites for the general public, scientists and students. Every year, SCK CEN welcomes hundreds of visitors (both professionals and members of the general public) in its laboratories.
SCK CEN also analyses the social aspects of nuclear technology, in particular public participation in the decision-making process. Every two to three years, SCK CEN conducts opinion polls representative of the adult population living in Belgium, analysing the evolution of its perceptions and knowledge in the field of nuclear technology.
EURIDICE has its own recently renovated communication space within the demonstration hall and organizes visits to both the demonstration hall and the underground laboratory.
In keeping with their mission to serve public welfare, the IRE and its subsidiary IRE-ELiT (Environment and Life science Technology), maintain an open and transparent dialogue with the various parties concerned: authorities, residents in the area, professionals, the general public, partners and clients. Conscious of its social and civic responsibility, the IRE mobilizes the resources necessary to maintain a special relationship with the neighbouring population. The Institute prioritizes communications with residents in the area, neighbouring companies and the municipal administrative departments concerned. Various initiatives illustrate this commitment, such as the organization of open days and information sessions, periodic circulation of the newsletter Live from the IRE to residents and the creation of a new web site (www.ire.eu).
STORA is a not-for-profit association composed of organizations and residents of the municipality of Dessel, which monitors all nuclear affairs in the municipality. One of STORA's major objectives is to involve the population of Dessel in all nuclear matters. Several nuclear companies have their head offices in Dessel, and Belgium's radioactive waste is processed and stored on the site of Belgoprocess.
MONA (Mol Consultation on Nuclear Waste or in Dutch: Mols Overleg Nucleair Afval) is a not-for-profit association founded in 2000 to monitor the development of the planned storage facility for low and intermediate level short lived waste (cAt-project). MONA ensures the continued involvement of the population of Mol in the technical development of this disposal project and ensures that the conditions imposed by Mol are respected.
2.11. EMERGENCY PREPAREDNESS
Emergency preparedness and planning are competencies under the Minister of Home Affairs and his/her administrative services. Off-site operations are directed by the Governmental Centre for Coordination and Emergencies (CGCCR). The implementation of the actions decided at the federal level and the management of the intervention teams are conducted by the Governor of the province concerned. In addition to the duties defined in the Royal Decree of 17 October 2003, FANC/AFCN is one of the main actors within the emergency plan. Its role is defined in articles 15, 21 and 22 of the Law of 15 April 1994, creating the FANC/AFCN, and in articles 70, 71 and 72 of GRR-2001 (General Regulations regarding the protection of the public, the workers and the environment against the hazards of ionizing radiation, EURATOM Treaty, Article 37). These articles stipulate that the FANC/AFCN is responsible for surveying, controlling and monitoring the radioactivity in the territory and delivering technical assistance to set up the emergency plan. It is also in charge of participating in and/or organizing operational cells (i.e. evaluation cell and measurements cell).
The Superior Health Council (SHC/HGR/CSS) is the scientific advisory body of the FPS Public Health, Food Chain Safety and Environment. The SHC formulates advisory reports on request or on its own initiative and publishes them. It is obliged to provide advice on any regulatory change that has implications for public health and the environment. It can also take initiatives itself, especially in situations involving emergency planning.
3. NATIONAL LAWS AND REGULATIONS
3.1. REGULATORY FRAMEWORK
3.1.1. Regulatory authority(s)
The Federal Agency for Nuclear Control (FANC/AFCN)
The regulatory authority in the field of radiation protection, nuclear safety and radiological surveillance is the FANC/AFCN, a public body with legal personality which is supervised by the Minister for the Interior. It was established by the Law of 15 April 1994 but only became fully operational on 1 September 2001. The FANC/AFCN has been given its missions and enforcement powers directly by the Parliament, guaranteeing its constitutional independence with respect to the Government within its legal competences. It can organize its internal decision making and can recruit its staff with sufficient autonomy from the political level and can defend its position before court against other interested parties when needed. The FANC/AFCN may propose laws and decrees to the Government, and it must implement laws and decrees to review licence applications, to propose licences or to grant licences, as applicable, to ensure compliance with the regulatory provisions and the licence conditions.
In 2008, Bel V was created as a subsidiary of the FANC/AFCN following a Parliamentary resolution. A management contract between the FANC/AFCN and Bel V delegates several tasks to Bel V, such as the control of nuclear facilities and the review and assessment activities for these facilities. Bel V is a founding member of the European Technical Safety Organizations Network (ETSON).
The FANC/AFCN is a founding member of the West European Nuclear Regulators Association (WENRA). Together with Bel V, it participates actively in the Reactor Harmonization Working Group (RHWG) and in the Working Group on Waste and Decommissioning (WGWD), specifically on developing reference levels for waste disposal facilities.
3.1.2. Licensing process
Licensing takes place under the authority of the Minister for the Interior (Royal Decree of 7 August 1995), who oversees the FANC/AFCN. The minister and the agency are responsible for promulgating and enforcing regulations designed to protect the employees of the nuclear plants and the population against the hazards of ionizing radiation. The agency is assisted in technical matters and advised by a scientific council of experts and representatives from various authorities responsible for nuclear safety. The council gives recommendations by absolute majority. Bel V, the subsidiary body of the FANC/AFCN, carries out official acceptance procedures for nuclear installations prior to commissioning and exercises supervision over nuclear installations during operation. Ultimately, final authorization for nuclear plant commissioning rests with the King.
The main steps in Belgium's licensing procedure for nuclear installations (referred to as Class I installations in the regulations) are described in GRR-2001.
3.2. NATIONAL LAWS AND REGULATIONS IN NUCLEAR POWER
Main laws in nuclear power
Nuclear law, establishing responsibilities for different areas
Law of 8 August 1980 on the budgetary proposals for 1979 1980, Article 179 2 and 3, establishing the National Agency for Radioactive Waste and Fissile Materials (ONDRAF/NIRAS) and entrusting ONDRAF/NIRAS with the safe transportation, treatment, conditioning, storage, and disposal of all radioactive waste produced in the country. This law was modified by the Law of 11 January 1991, which also slightly changed the name of the agency to Belgian National Agency for Radioactive Waste and Enriched Fissile Materials; by the Law of 12 December 1997, extending the mission of ONDRAF/NIRAS to establish an inventory of all nuclear facilities and sites containing radioactive waste, and its financing; by the Programme Law of 30 December 2001, modifying Article 179 2, on the National Agency for Radioactive Waste and Fissile Materials; by the Law of 29 December 2010, modifying inter alia the Law of 8 August 1980, giving ONDRAF/NIRAS additional legal tasks with respect to activities and measures in the domain of the social support for the integration of a disposal facility at the local level; and by the Law of 3 June 2014, completely transposing Council Directive 2011/70/EURATOM of 19 July 2011, establishing a community framework for the responsible and safe management of spent fuel and radioactive waste.
Royal Decree of 30 March 1981 defining the missions and duties of ONDRAF/NIRAS, as amended by the Royal Decrees of 16 October 1991, 4 April 2003, 1 May 2006, 18 May 2006, 2 June 2006, 13 June 2007, 3 July 2012, and 25 April 2014, determining the tasks and functional modalities of the public body for the management of radioactive waste regarding the providing of resources for the medium- and long-term funds.
Law of 31 January 2003 on the gradual phasing out of nuclear energy for the industrial production of electricity, as amended by the Law of 18 December 2013.
Law of 11 April 2003 regulating the provisions for the decommissioning of Belgium's NPPs and for the management of spent fuel from these NPPs and establishing the Commission for Nuclear Provisions.
Civil nuclear liability
Law of 22 July 1985 on nuclear liability, which integrates the Paris Convention and the follow-up Convention of Brussels and their additional protocols, as modified by the Laws of 11 July 2000, 13 November 2011, 29 June 2014, and 7 December 2016. This law sets the maximum amount of the operator's civil liability for damages caused by a nuclear accident to about 1 200 million (per accident and per site).
Royal Decree of 28 December 2011 laying down the maximum amount of the damage for which the operator or carrier may be held responsible in the case of transport within the meaning of Article 14 of the Law of 22 July 1985 on third-party liability in the field of nuclear energy.
Royal Decree of 10 December 2017 establishing a third-party liability guarantee programme in the field of nuclear energy.
Establishing a regulatory body
Law of 15 April 1994 on the protection of the public and the environment against the dangers of ionizing radiation and on the Belgian Federal Agency for Nuclear Control (FANC/AFCN), repealing and replacing the Law of 29 March 1958. This law constitutes the legal basis for the FANC/AFCN as a regulatory body, its role being defined in articles 15, 21 and 22, and sets out the basic elements for protecting the workers, the public and the environment against the adverse effects of ionizing radiation, as amended by the Law of 22 December 2008, allowing the FANC/AFCN to create Bel V to perform regulatory missions that can be legally delegated by the FANC/AFCN, without having to use a public tender procedure.
Implementing IAEA safeguards
Law of 26 November 1996 approving the Convention on Nuclear Safety of 20 September 1994.
Law of 5 June 1998 approving the Convention on Early Notification of a Nuclear Accident of 26 September 1986.
Law of 5 June 1998 approving the Convention on Assistance in the Case of a Nuclear Accident or Radiological Emergency of 26 September 1986.
Law of 2 August 2002 approving the Joint Convention on the Safety of Spent Fuel Management and on the Safety of Radioactive Waste Management of 5 September 1997.
Rules for environmental protection
Law of 13 February 2006 on the assessment of the environmental consequences of certain plans and programmes and the public participation in the preparation of plans and programmes in connection with the environment and transposing European Commission Directives 2001/42/EC and 2003/35/EC into Belgian legislation, requiring that the plans for the long-term management of radioactive waste drawn up by ONDRAF/NIRAS must be accompanied by an SEA and submitted for public consultation.
Law of 5 August 2006 on public access to environmental information.
Import and export controls of nuclear material and items
Law of 1 June 2005 on the implementation of the Additional Protocol of 22 September 1998 to the International Agreement of 5 April 1973 on implementation of Article III, Paragraphs 1 and 4 of the Treaty of 1 July 1968 on the NonProliferation of Nuclear Weapons.
Law of 13 November 2002 approving the Additional Protocol to the Agreement on implementation of Article III, Paragraphs 1 and 4 of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons and Annexes I, II and III of 22 September 1998.
Royal Decree of 24 March 2009 on the import, transit and export of radioactive materials, transposing directive 2006/117/EURATOM (replacing directive 1992/3/EURATOM) on the supervision and control of shipments of radioactive substances between Member States and suppressing chapter IV of GRR-2001.
Security principles, including physical protection of nuclear material and facilities and protection of sensitive information
Law of 11 December 1998 on classification and security clearances, certificates and advice.
Law of 15 July 2008 approving the Amendment to the Convention on Physical Protection of Nuclear Material (CPPNM) of 8 July 2005.
Law of 10 September 2009 approving the International Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism of 14 September 2005.
Law of 1 July 2011 relating to the security and protection of critical infrastructures, partially transposing Council Directive 2008/114/EC of 8 December 2008 on the identification and designation of European critical infrastructures and the assessment of the need to improve their protection.
Roles of national government, local government, and stakeholders
Special Law of 8 August 1980 on institutional reform, awarding federal and regional authorities joint responsibility for energy policy.
Law of 29 April 1999 on the organization of the electricity market (amended by the Law of 8 January 2012).
Law of 1 June 2005 fully implementing European Union Directive 2003/54/EC on the common rules for the internal electricity market.
Main regulations in nuclear power
Provisions for authorization system, responsibilities of the operator, inspection and enforcement, radiation protection of workers, public and environment
Law of 4 August 1996 on the welfare of workers in the performance of their work.
Royal Decree of 20 July 2001 (amended) laying down the General Regulations regarding the protection of the public, the workers and the environment against the hazards of ionizing radiation (GRR-2001, as amended) provides for the general principles set out in the Law of 15 April 1994, replacing the Royal Decree of 28 February 1963 (GRR-1963). The scope of GRR-2001 is very wide and covers practically all human activities and situations which involve a risk due to the exposure to ionizing radiation.
GRR-2001 includes provisions for establishing an authorization system, responsibilities of the operator, inspection and enforcement, and site selection and approval within the licensing system. Article 3 of the Royal Decree defines the classification of nuclear installations (Class I to IV).
Law of 5 August 2006 on access to environmental information by the general public, which also applies to the nuclear sector.
Law of 15 May 2007 defining the notion of civil safety and describing the roles and missions of the different entities involved.
Safety of nuclear installations
Royal decrees of 17 October 2011 on security, addressing categorization and protection of documents, physical protection of nuclear materials, nuclear installations and transport, categorization of nuclear materials and definition of security zones in nuclear installations and nuclear transport organizations, security clearances and certificates, and regulating access to security zones, nuclear material, or documents in specific circumstances.
Royal Decree of 30 November 2011 on the Safety Requirements for Nuclear Installations (SRNI-2011). This royal decree includes all reference levels developed by the Reactor Harmonization Group (RHWG) of the Western European Nuclear Regulators Association (WENRA). It also transposes the European Directive 2009/71/EURATOM into the Belgian regulations.
Radioactive waste and spent fuel management, including storage and disposal
Royal Decree of 16 October 1991 defining the procedures for the Law of 11 January 1991 and the responsibilities of ONDRAF/NIRAS: the qualification of installations for treatment and conditioning of radioactive waste; the establishment of acceptance criteria for conditioned and unconditioned radioactive waste based on general rules to be approved by the safety authority.
Ministerial letter of 10 February 1999 concerning general rules for the establishment of acceptance criteria by ONDRAF/NIRAS for conditioned and non-conditioned waste.
Royal Decree of 18 November 2002 regarding the practical implementation of the qualification of installations for the storage, treatment and conditioning of radioactive waste and installations for the radiological characterization of radioactive waste.
Royal Decree of 26 May 2006, transposing directive 2003/122/EURATOM on the control of sealed radioactive sources and of orphan sources , amending accordingly GRR-2001.
Royal Decree of 14 October 2011 on orphan sources.
Decommissioning, including funding and institutional control
Law of 24 December 2002 providing for the levy of an excise tax, called federal dues, which is calculated based on kW?h consumed. These dues are paid to a fund earmarked to finance responsibilities resulting from the decommissioning of the sites of the former Eurochemic plant (Site 1 or BP1) and the former waste department of SCK CEN (Site 2 or BP2), as well as the treatment, processing, storage and evacuation of accumulated radioactive waste. The CREG collects the amount owed as dues and transfers it to ONDRAF/NIRAS, which is responsible for the management and clean-up.
Law of 24 March 2003 creating the legal framework for a structural financing mechanism of the dismantling activities on the BP1 and BP2 sites until their completion by a levy on the transported kW?h. For each period of five years, ONDRAF/NIRAS must present a financing plan to its supervising minister.
Royal Decree of 24 March 2003 laying down the detailed rules on the federal contribution for the financing of certain public service obligations and the costs related to the regulation and control of the electricity market.
Royal Decree of 4 April 2003 determining that ONDRAF/NIRAS's funds available in the medium and the long term must be invested in financial instruments issued by the federal Government. As a result, the board of ONDRAF/NIRAS has decided to invest the assets of the long term fund into Belgian Governmental bonds which will be passively managed.
Law of 11 April 2003 regarding liabilities and provisions for the decommissioning and dismantling of nuclear power plants and the management of the spent fuel from these nuclear power plants, amended by the Law of 25 April 2007. This law also determines the management of funds built up by Synatom for the decommissioning of the nuclear power plants.
Royal Decree of 19 December 2003 to determine the amounts allocated to the financing of the nuclear liabilities BP1 and BP2 for the period 2004 to 2008, in implementation of Article 4, 2 of the Royal Decree of 24 March 2003.
Royal Decree of 17 October 2003, defining a nuclear and radiological emergency plan for the territory of Belgium as well as notification criteria from the operators to the Government. Emergency planning is a competency belonging to the Minister of Home Affairs and his/her administrative services.
Royal Decree of 24 November 2003, setting the emergency planning zones relative to the direct actions to protect the population (evacuation, sheltering and iodine prophylaxis). These evacuation and sheltering zones vary from a 0 to 10 km radius depending on the nuclear plant concerned; the stable iodine tablet pre-distribution zones extend from 10 km up to 20 km around the nuclear plants.
Royal Decree of 16 February 2006 organizing the planning and interventions during emergency situations.
Transport of radioactive material
Law of 8 August 1980 on the budgetary proposals for 1979 1980, art. 179 2 and 3 (as amended by the Acts of 11 January 1991 and 12 December 1997), establishing ONDRAF/NIRAS and entrusting ONDRAF/NIRAS with the safe transportation, treatment, conditioning, storage and disposal of all radioactive waste produced in the country.
Royal Decrees of 17 October 2011 on security, addressing categorization and protection of documents, physical protection of nuclear materials, nuclear installations and transport, categorization of nuclear materials and definition of security zones in nuclear installations and nuclear transport organizations, security clearances and certificates, and regulating access to security zones, nuclear material or documents in specific circumstances.
COMMISSION FOR NUCLEAR PROVISIONS, Annual report 2020, https://economie.fgov.be/fr/publications/rapports-annuels-de-la
FPS ECONOMY, SMEs, SELF-EMPLOYED and ENERGY, Energy Key Data February 2022, https://economie.fgov.be/en/publication/energy-key-data-february-2022
HELMREICH, J. E., United States Relations with Belgium and the Congo, 1940-1960, University of Delaware Press (1998)
INTERNATIONAL ATOMIC ENERGY AGENCY, Integrated Regulatory Review Service (IRRS) Mission to Belgium, IAEA, Vienna (2013), www.iaea.org/sites/default/files/documents/review-missions/irrs_belgium_mission_2013_report.pdf
INTERNATIONAL ENERGY AGENCY, April 2022, Belgium 2022 Energy Policy Review, https://www.iea.org/reports/belgium-2022
MARIS, M., JAUMOTTE, A., GOVAERTS, P., Histoire du Nucl aire en Belgique, 1990 2005, P.I.E. Peter Lang, Brussels (2007).
NATIONAL CLIMATE COMMISSION, Belgian Integrated National Energy and Climate Plan 2021-2030, Consultation Committee, 2019, https://ec.europa.eu/energy/sites/ener/files/documents/be_final_necp_parta_en.pdf, https://ec.europa.eu/energy/sites/ener/files/documents/be_final_necp_partb_en.pdf
NATIONAL PROGRAMME COMMITTEE, National Programme for the Management of Spent Fuel and Radioactive Waste First edition: October 2015, National Programme Committee, Brussels (2015), https://economie.fgov.be/sites/default/files/Files/Energy/National-programme-courtesy-translation.pdf, https://ec.europa.eu/energy/sites/ener/files/be_2nd_nr.pdf
NATIONAL PROGRAMME COMMITTEE, National report on the implementation of Council Directive 2011/70/Euratom establishing a Community framework for the responsible and safe management of spent fuel and radioactive waste, Third edition, August 2021, https://economie.fgov.be/sites/default/files/Files/Energy/national-report-implementation-council-directive-2011-70-euratom.pdf
NUCLEAR ENERGY AGENCY OF THE ORGANISATION FOR ECONOMIC CO-OPERATION AND DEVELOPMENT, Nuclear Energy Data 2019, Country Reports: Belgium, OECD/NEA, Paris (2019) p. 47, https://read.oecd-ilibrary.org/nuclear-energy/nuclear-energy-data-2019_1786b86b-en-fr#page49
NUCLEAR ENERGY AGENCY OF THE ORGANISATION FOR ECONOMIC CO-OPERATION AND DEVELOPMENT, Nuclear Legislation in OECD and NEA Countries: Regulatory and Institutional Framework for Nuclear Activities: Belgium, OECD/NEA, Paris (2010), www.oecd-nea.org/law/legislation/belgium.pdf
NUCLEAR ENERGY AGENCY OF THE ORGANISATION FOR ECONOMIC CO-OPERATION AND DEVELOPMENT, Radioactive Waste Management Programmes in OECD/NEA Member Countries: Belgium 2013, OECD/NEA, Paris (2013), www.oecd-nea.org/rwm/profiles/Belgium_profile_web_2013.pdf
NUCLEAR ENERGY AGENCY OF THE ORGANISATION FOR ECONOMIC CO-OPERATION AND DEVELOPMENT, INTERNATIONAL ATOMIC ENERGY AGENCY, Uranium 2011: Resources, Production and Demand, OECD/NEA, Paris (2012), www.oecd-nea.org/ndd/pubs/2012/7059-uranium-2011.pdf
SUPERIOR HEALTH COUNCIL, Report 9576 - Nuclear risk, sustainable development and energy transition (2021), https://www.health.belgium.be/en/report-9576-nuclear-risk-sustainable-development-and-energy-transition. The advisory report is only available in Dutch and French.
APPENDIX 1. INTERNATIONAL, MULTILATERAL AND BILATERAL AGREEMENTS
APPENDIX 2. MAIN ORGANIZATIONS, INSTITUTIONS AND COMPANIES INVOLVED IN NUCLEAR POWER RELATED ACTIVITIES
|Federal Public Service Economy, SMEs, Self-Employed and Energy |
Directorate-General for Energy
Boulevard du Roi Albert II, 16
|Tel.: +32 (2) 277 89 81 or +32 2 277 61 85 |
Web site: http://economie.fgov.be
|Federal Public Service Foreign Affairs, |
Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation
Rue des Petits Carmes, 15
|Tel.: +32 (2) 501 81 11 |
Web site: http://diplomatie.belgium.be/en/
|Federal Public Service Interior |
Rue de Louvain, 1
|Tel.: +32 (2) 500 21 11 |
Web site: www.ibz.be
|NUCLEAR SAFETY AUTHORITY |
|Federal Agency for Nuclear Control FANC/AFCN |
Rue Ravenstein, 36
|Tel.: +32 (2) 289 21 11 |
Web site: https://fanc.be/nl (Dutch) or https://afcn.be/fr (French)
|WASTE MANAGEMENT ORGANIZATION |
Avenue des Arts, 14
|Tel.: +32 (2) 212 10 11 |
Web site: www.niras.be/ (Dutch) or www.ondraf.be (French)
|Tel.: +32 (0)14 33 40 50|
Web site: https://www.tabloo.com/home-en.html
|EIG EURIDICE |
|Tel.: +32 (14) 33 27 84 |
Web site: www.euridice.be/
|SCK CEN (Belgian Nuclear Research Centre) |
(Registered Office Brussels)
Avenue Herrmann-Debrouxlaan 40
(Research Centre Mol)
Tel.: +32 (2) 661 19 51
Web site: www.sckcen.be
Tel.: +32 (14) 33 21 11
|OTHER BELGIAN NUCLEAR ORGANIZATIONS |
|Belgian Association for Radioprotection |
Avenue Herrmann Debroux, 40
|Tel.: +32 (2) 289 21 27 |
Web site: www.bvsabr.be
|Belgian Nuclear Society |
c/o SCK CEN
Avenue Herrmann Debroux, 40
|Email: email@example.com |
Web site: www.bnsorg.be
|Fund for Scientific Research |
Fonds National de la Recherche Scientifique (FNRS)
Fonds Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek (FWO)
Rue d Egmont 5
|Tel.: +32 (2) 504 92 11 |
Web site: www.fnrs.be/en/
|Inter-University Institute for Nuclear Science |
Institut Interuniversitaire des Sciences Nucl aires (IISN)
Interuniversitair Instituut voor Kernwetenschappen (IIKW)
Rue d Egmont 5
|Tel.: +32 (2) 512 91 10 |
|NUCLEAIR FORUM |
Avenue des Arts 56
|Tel.: +32 (2) 761 94 50 |
Web site: www.nucleairforum.be
|BELGIAN NUCLEAR INDUSTRY RELATED ORGANIZATIONS |
Bd. A. Reyers, 80
|Tel.: +32 (2) 706 78 00 |
Web site: www.agoria.be
|BELGIAN NUCLEAR INDUSTRY SECTOR |
|Belgian companies provide products and services for a wide range of applications in the nuclear industry. Use the app Nuc Tec Bel to find an overview of the Belgian nuclear technology and service providers.|
|Association Vin otte Nuclear (AVN) |
Chauss e de Waterloo 1151
|Tel.: +32 (2) 528 01 11 |
Web site: www.avn.be
|Bel V |
Rue Walcourtstraat, 148
|Tel.: +32 (2) 528 02 11 |
Web site: www.belv.be
|Belgoprocess S.A. |
|Tel.: +32 (14) 33 41 11 |
Web site: www.belgoprocess.be
|Luminus S.A. |
Koning Albert II-laan 7 Avenue Roi Albert II
|Tel.: +32 (2) 229 19 50 |
Web site: www.luminus.be
|Electrabel S.A. |
Boulevard Sim n Bol var, 34
|Tel.: +32 (2) 518 61 11 |
Web site: www.engie-electrabel.be
|FBFC International, S.A. (in decommissioning) |
|Tel.: +32 (14) 33 12 11 |
Web site: http://www.framatome.com
|IRE and IRE ELiT (environment and life science technology) |
Avenue de l Esp rance, 1
|Tel.: +32 (71) 82 95 56 |
Web site: www.ire.eu
|Laborelec ENGIE S.A. |
Rue de Rhode, 125
|Tel.: +32 (2) 382 02 11 |
Web site: www.laborelec.com
|Synatom S.A. (nuclear fuel procurement) |
Boulevard Sim n Bol var, 34
|Tel.: +32 (2) 505 07 11 |
Web site: www.synatom.be
|Tractebel S.A. (architectural engineer and contractor) |
Boulevard Simon Bolivar 34
|Tel.: +32 (2) 773 99 11 |
Web site: www.tractebel-engie.com
|Transnubel S.A. (fuel transportation & decontamination) |
|Tel.: +32 (14) 33 11 11 |
Web site: www.transnubel.be
|Transrad S.A. |
Zoning Industriel site IRE
Avenue de l Esp rance, 1
|Tel.: +32 (71) 82 97 59 |
Web site: www.transrad.be
|Westinghouse Electric Europe, sprl |
Rue de l Industrie, 43
|Tel.: +32 (67) 28 81 11 |
Web site: www.westinghousenuclear.com
|BELGIAN NUCLEAR RELATED COMPANIES |
|Belgian companies provide products and services for a wide range of applications in the nuclear industry. Use the app Nuc Tec Bel to find an overview of the Belgian nuclear technology and service providers.|
|VIN OTTE SA |
Business Unit Controlatom
Jan Olieslagerslaan 35
|Tel.: +32 (2) 674 51 20 |
Web site: www.vincotte.be/en/radiation-protection-controlatom
|Ateliers de la Meuse (mechanical equipment) |
Rue Ernest Solvay, 107
4000 Sclessin (Li ge)
|Tel.: +32 (4) 252 00 30 |
Web site: www.alm.be/en
|ENGIE Fabricom (electrical and mechanical contractor) |
Rue Gatti de Gamond, 254
|Tel.: +32 (2) 370 31 11 |
Web site: www.engie-fabricom.be
|Ion Beam Applications (IBA) Group |
Chemin du Cyclotron, 3
|Tel.: +32 (10) 47 58 11|
Web site: http://www.iba-group.com
Federal Public Service Economy, SMEs, Self-employed and Energy
Directorate-General for Energy
Nuclear Applications and Critical Infrastructures
North Gate III
16, Boulevard du Roi Albert II
Name of report coordinator
Tel.: +32 (2) 277 98 22