A strong basic design

Like most American and European reactors, those of Doel and Tihange are of the type ‘Pressurized Water Reactor’ (PWR). These reactors with water under pressure are among the safest in the world.

The design is based on rules and practices from the United States, but adapted to the Belgian context. For every Belgian nuclear power plant, the regulations for the construction and operation are set out in the safety report, the operation and environmental permit. The concept of the PWR power station also forms the basis for the latest generation of nuclear power plants which are currently in construction in France and Finland.

The design of the Belgian nuclear power plants takes into account their proximity to large cities. All Belgian nuclear power plants have a double-shell reactor building with walls of reinforced concrete. The inner shell prevents the release of radioactivity and can withstand strong pressure from the inside. The second wall protects the installations from external events. 

In addition, all Belgian power stations are equipped with an additional set of safety systems. Among others these include a number of diesel generators and a backup control room which can operate fully independently. These safety systems can safely shut down and continue to cool the installations in all circumstances. If one system were to fail, the other systems would take over. On top of this, the installations were equipped with an another additional set of independent and mobile safety systems after the stress tests following the Fukushima nuclear accident.