Brussels (dpa) - A first reactor is to be taken off the grid on Friday evening as part of Belgium's controversial nuclear energy phase-out, Belgium news agency Belga reported.
The reactor in Doel close to the city of Antwerp is one of seven reactors located in two different Belgian nuclear power plants.
Belgium's exit from nuclear energy generation by 2025 was first decided in 2003.
Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo announced in March however that two other reactors are to stay operational until 2035 amid concerns over energy security since Russia's invasion of Ukraine.
Nuclear power accounted for 52.4% of Belgium's electricity generation in 2021, according to grid operator Elia.
A few dozens demonstrators and local politicians gathered in Doel on Friday protesting the shut down, Belga reported.
Workers at Belgium's second nuclear power plant in Tihange, near the German border, briefly blocked access to the site, demonstrating solidarity with workers in Doel whose jobs are at risk.
A second reactor is scheduled to be taken off the grid in February in Tihange; three more reactors are to be shut down in 2025.
The first two reactors targeted by the phase-out are known for their safety issues. Both have been shut down repeatedly since cracks were discovered in the reactor pressure vessels in 2012 and other problems.
## Internet links - [Belgian nuclear exit law](http://dpaq.de/UCvYj) - [More information on the Doel power plant by operator Engie](http://dpaq.de/VwKuB)