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Fire shuts down Belgium's Tihange nuclear reactor

A nuclear reactor at the Tihange power station in Belgium has been shut down following a fire inside the plant. Germany has protested the power station near the border.

Tihange's reactor 1 was taken offline at 10:35 p.m. (2135 UTC) Friday following a fire in a non-nuclear section of the plant, operator Electrabel told Belgium's private Belga news agency.

Electrabel said the incident did not impact workers, the public or the environment.

The power plant - about 70 kilometers (43 miles) from the German border city of Aachen - is controversial in neighboring Germany.

Earlier this week

regional government authorities in Germany protested Belgium's decision

to restart the plant's reactor 2 following a two-year shutdown after

discovery of micro-cracks

in the reactor's cement casing in 2012.

Belgien Internationaler Protest gegen Atomkraft

Belgium's decision to delay decommissioning its nuclear reactors is controversial in neighboring Germany

German neighbors unhappy with nearby reactors

North Rhine-Westphalia's state government has protested restarting the 40-year-old reactors, claiming it is a safety hazard and located to millions of people as four of Germany's 10 largest cities - Cologne, Düsseldorf, Dortmund and Essen - are located within the Rhineland state.

Seven nuclear power plants produce about half of Belgium's electricity supply. Two other 40-year-old reactors meant to be decommissioned this year - Doel 1 and 2 - are being kept online for another decade to help meet domestic demand.

Belgium said it's committed to

phase out nuclear power entirely by 2025.

Germany is also phasing out its nuclear plants, with the remaining slated to close by 2022.

jar/sms (dpa, AFP)

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