Interboring recently received an order from SCK CEN, the Belgian nuclear research centre, to cut the activated concrete biological shield of the BR3.

View on BR3 (Source: SCK CEN Mol)

Nuclear reactors are equipped with different and mutually reinforcing ("redundant") safety systems. The biological shield around the reactor protects people and the environment against ionizing radiation produced in the heart of the reactor by the nuclear fission.

The cutting process must be done with great precision, taking into account strict safety conditions for people, equipment and the environment. This concrete wall, with a thickness varying from 80 cm to 120 cm, is cut using a movable sawing installation.

A diamond cable will saw the concrete wall in such a way that the concrete blocks, with a mass of almost 10,000 kg, can each be manipulated for further processing. The entire process will run dry, so that special attention is paid to controlling and collecting the concrete dust that is released during cutting.

The Belgian Reactor 3 (BR3) was the first pressurized water reactor (PWR) in Europe. It was put into operation in 1962 and finally shut down in 1987. During the active period, the BR3 was mainly used as a research and training reactor. The reactor was also the prototype for the nuclear reactors that were later built in Doel and Tihange.

Schematic of the BR3 with detail of the reactor building (Source: SCK CEN Mol)

SCK CEN plays an important pioneering role in the decommissioning of nuclear installations in Europe. After the shutdown in 1987, the European Commission selected the BR3 as a pilot project to study and demonstrate the technical and economic feasibility of reactor decommissioning in real conditions. As a result, SCK CEN has built up important expertise that can also benefit the decommissioning of the nuclear reactors at Doel and Tihange.

Cutting the reinforced concrete shield of the reactor vessel is done for the very first time in Belgium. Activated concrete is being cut in a nuclear environment for the first time in Belgium.

“Interboring and its employees are therefore very proud that this project will be added to the list of unique nuclear references. As a result, Interboring is positioning itself even more as a concrete surgeon in a nuclear market that will trigger a major industrial decommissioning activity with the upcoming closure of the Belgian nuclear power plants,” said a forward-looking Jos Spilstijns, CEO of Interboring.

The works will start before the summer holiday 2022 and will last one year.

About Interboring: Interboring bv is a Flemish family SME with its registered office in Zonhoven and founded in 1983 by Erik Witters. Started with drilling in concrete, evolved to sawing concrete, and later also drilling and sawing metal. For several years now, the service has also included non-destructive concrete testing. In the nuclear sector, Interboring has been a reliable partner for Electrabel, SCK CEN and ONDRAF/NIRAS (& Belgoprocess) for decades.


For more information:   Jos Spilstijns

                                          CEO – managing director


                                          M: +32 476 830 200