Borssele nuclear power plant

The Borssele Nuclear Power Station (Kernenergiecentrale Borssele) is a nuclear power plant in the Dutch town of Borssele. It has a pressurised water reactor (PWR). Borssele is the only nuclear power plant still operational for electricity production in the Netherlands. Its net output is 485 MWe.

History

The Borssele nuclear power plant was built by Siemens and has been operational since 1973. Originally it was built primarily to supply relatively cheap electricity to aluminum producer Pechiney. In 2006, the installation of a modern steam turbine brought the original output from 449 MW to 485 MW.

Nuclear fuel

In 2008, Borssele announced it wanted to acquire a permit to burn MOX fuel. Currently, the uranium used by Borssele comes from Kazakhstan.

Radioactive waste

Areva NCreprocesses the spent fissionable material. Part of the deal is that the radioactive waste (i.e. the products of the reprocessing which are not useful) are taken back by the Netherlands.

The Central Organization for Radioactive Waste (COVRA), also in Borssele, is the national storage facility for all radioactive wastes. It is a surface facility suitable for the next 100 years.

Borssele produces around 12 tonnes of high level waste annually.

Controversy

The use of nuclear energy is a controversial issue in Dutch politics. The first commercial nuclear plant in the Netherlands, Dodewaard, was decommissioned in 1997 after only 28 years of service. This decision was taken against the background of political opposition to nuclear energy. In 1994, government and parliament decided to close down the Borssele plant as of 2004. However, due to legal action by owners and employees of the plant and changes in government policy in 2002, the decommissioning was delayed until 2013, meaning the plant would exactly fulfill its originally intended life span of 40 years. In recent years nuclear energy has become less controversial in the Netherlands and is increasingly viewed as one of many possibilities to reduce CO2 emissions and increase national energy self-reliance. As a result, the Dutch government decided in 2006 that Borssele would remain operational until 2033. In June 2006, the government made a contract ("Borssele-convenant") with the owners of the plant, Delta and Essent. Delta and Essent commit themselves to pay 250 Mio Euro into a 'fonds voor duurzame energie' (fund for the R&D of renewable energy) from their windfall profits being generated by the prolongation of the operating time.

In 2009, the Dutch utility Delta, which owns 50% of Elektriciteits Produktiemaatschappij Zuid-Nederland (EPZ), submitted a start-up memorandum to the Ministry of Housing, Spatial Planning and the Environment, beginning the process of building a second unit at Borssele. The choice of reactor design for the new project has not been disclosed, although Delta says it expects construction costs to be in the order of €4–5 billion ($6–7 billion). The company said in 2009 that if all goes well, a construction permit application could be submitted in 2012, with a construction start date of 2013, and plant operation in 2018. In June, Delta announced that it will become the majority shareholder of the nuclear power plant in Borssele.

Incidents

Since 1980 the Dutch government publishes yearly reports of malfunctions and accidents in nuclear power plants. These reports show that up to and including 2009 there were 372 incidents. During these incidents there were regular malfunctions of safety precautions. In 1981, 1984, 1986, 1987, 1989 and 2006 there had been problems with the emergency power supplies.

Table of malfunctions & accidents at the Borssele Nuclear Power Station

In 1996 there was an INES 2-incident (on a scale of 7) at Borssele. Nobody got hurt.

Sources

Based on information from the website of the Dutch Ministry of Housing, Spatial Planning, and the Environment and the Energy Research Center of the Netherlands.

Media

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