Belgian Possible Cracked Vessel Problem At 10 US Reactors (With List)

Belgian officials earlier this week announced that the reactor vessel at the Doel nuclear plant, unit 3 was found to have cracks. The Belgian regulator said the cracks in the reactor vessel are due to manufacturing problems, not from aging. Some reporting misstated the reactor vessel as a “tank” in their reports.  About 10 nuclear reactors in the US had their reactor vessel made by Rotterdam Dry Dock Company, the company that made the vessel for Doel. The inspection was done with a new ultrasound tool. The operator is re-scanning the the vessel with their old ultrasound tool to rule out problems with the new tool. They are anticipating being out of operation at least until the end of the month. The Swiss scanned their Rotterdam made reactor vessel with the same ultrasound tool and did not find problems.

The U.S. regulator said it will send an engineering expert to next week’s meeting. “We want to know more about what tests were done, the methodologies and techniques and equipment used to test it,” spokesman David McIntyre said. “It’s a little early to be jumping to conclusions at this point. There will be more testing to verify that there’s a problem and the extent of it.

The NRC is in the process of confirming the exact number of reactor vessels made by Rotterdam, records and other media reports show so far 10 units to be involved in the US.

**Updated to include additional units 12.15.2015

Vermont Yankee
N Anna 2
N Anna 1
Surrey 1
Surrey 2
Watts Bar 2
Watts Bar 1
McGuire 2
Catabwa 1
Fermi 2
Sequoyah (now closed)

Quad Cities (possible)
Netherlands (1): Borssele, Dodewaard (permanent shutdown)
Belgium (2): Doel 3, Tihange 2
Sweden (1): Ringhals 2
Spain (2): Cofrentes and Garoña
Switzerland (2): Mühleberg, Leibstadt
Argentina (1): Atucha 1
Germany (2): Brunsbüttel (decommissioned),
Philippsburg 1 (decommissioned)
France (1): Tricastin (possible)

Source for the non-US reactors and Quad Cities

This is not the first issue with steel vessels from Rotterdam. In 1980 McGuire 2, Catabwa 1, Sequoyah (now closed) and Watts Bar 1 & 2 were under investigation after ultrasound inspection by the French found cracking issues in nozzle welds on Rotterdam vessels. The US inspections found 24 problems but decided they did not indicate the cracking problem the French found in their units.  Issues with cracking on Rotterdam vessels has been known as a possibility for 32 years.

Platts reported today that all four Virginia nuclear reactors owned by Dominion Power are included in this problem.  We found evidence that the two units at Watts Bar are the remaining 2 of the 10 estimated units.

The Rotterdam Dry Dock Company has had its share of problems over the years. For a time they made nuclear reactor vessels, oil tanks and other various large metal industrial equipment. As more is found out about the ongoing testing in Belgium we will post updates.

Update: A comment from the regulator in this AFP article. “According to French-language daily Le Soir, a crack of between 15 and 20 millimetres (0.6 and 0.8 inches) was discovered during a test in June. There has been no denial of this report. According to the agency, repairs are “practically impossible” and are “not an option” for fear of creating new tensions “which we must avoid at all costs.”

Many thanks to Ron D and Longtimelurker for finding all this new information!

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