EU fixes post-Japan nuclear safety overhaul

Mar 25, 2011 by Christian Spillmann

European leaders resolved Friday to revisit safety at nuclear reactors as emergency workers in Japan suffered radiation burns and rising global fears of food contamination hit home.

New checks are to be delegated to an inter-governmental European Nuclear Safety Regulatory Group (ENSRG), which will meet on Monday.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy, whose country has the lion's share of the industry in Europe with 58 reactors (34 of which are more than 30 years old), said if a plant fails so-called 'stress tests,' it will shut forever.

"If a reactor does not pass the test, it will be closed," he told a news conference following a two-day European Union summit preoccupied with the Libya campaign and Portuguese debt woes.

German Chancellor , British Prime Minister David Cameron and Spanish premier Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero also spoke of the need to double-check all security.

"It's not enough to do it at the national level," said Merkel, whose government has already shut nine of its 17 reactors.

"We also have to do it on a European and obviously international scale," she underlined.

Merkel, though, was given a gentle telling off back home by the doyen of German politics, former chancellor Helmut Kohl, 80.

"The catastrophe in Japan has not made nuclear power in Germany any more dangerous that it was before," he wrote in the mass-market Bild.

Cameron said leaders had achieved a "good concensus on what needed to be done," while Zapatero also said it was "logical" that sites failing inspections should close.

The decision followed vigorous arguments among national capitals this week over how to proceed towards so-called 'stress tests' on 143 existing nuclear plants, as well as future builds.

Europe is still traumatised by the Chernobyl nuclear accident in today's Ukraine back in 1986.

Luxembourg Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker said the EU must make certain that experts drawing up proposals for next month "must not be (too closely) linked to the nuclear lobby."

The stakes are high: 24 new reactors are planned in the EU, although enthusiasm outside France has dimmed since the leakage at the Fukushima plant following Japan's earthquake and tsunami.

Diplomats told AFP that Rome complained that "emotional" announcements from Berlin had "complicated" a June 12 referendum in Italy on plans to start building nuclear power stations there from 2014.

The Italian government on Wednesday declared a one-year moratorium on those plans.

Austria had demanded obligatory tests, and others failed in a bid to have like-for-like testing regimes introduced into accession negotiations -- a reference to new installations in EU-candidate Turkey, ministers' principal concern alongside Belarus and Russia.

Europe imposed emergency tests on imports of Japanese food Thursday over fears of radiation contamination, with physical checks in labs ordered before products enter the food chain.

Explore further: Low-cost, hydrogen-powered forklifts with rapid refueling, zero emissions coming soon

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

EU to mull 'stress tests' for nuclear plants

Mar 15, 2011

The European Union will discuss Tuesday whether to conduct "stress tests" on atomic power plants to check their safety in light of Japan's nuclear crisis, a European Commission spokeswoman said.

Germany shuts down seven reactors

Mar 15, 2011

Germany announced Tuesday the temporary shutdown of the oldest seven of its 17 nuclear reactors pending a safety review in light of Japan's atomic emergency.

Germany's Merkel vows 'measured' nuclear exit

Mar 17, 2011

Chancellor Angela Merkel vowed Thursday that Germany would speed up the transition to renewable energy as Europe's top economy mulled a "measured exit" from nuclear power after the events in Japan.

Spain facing key decision on use of nuclear power

Jun 11, 2009

The Spanish government will have to take a clear stand for or against nuclear power in the coming weeks when it decides whether to renew the operating licence of the oldest of the country's six nuclear plants.

Asia's nuclear drive on despite Japan crisis

Mar 15, 2011

Asian governments that are ramping up nuclear power will face huge pressure to curb their programmes in the wake of Japan's atomic crisis, but dozens of reactors will still be built in the near future.

Recommended for you

Ikea buys wind farm in Illinois

22 hours ago

These days, Ikea is assembling more than just furniture. About 150 miles south of Chicago in Vermilion County, Ill., the home goods giant is building a wind farm large enough to ensure that its stores will never have to buy ...

A homemade solar lamp for developing countries

Apr 14, 2014

( —The solar lamp developed by the start-up LEDsafari is a more effective, safer, and less expensive form of illumination than the traditional oil lamp currently used by more than one billion people ...

Power arm band for wearables harvests body heat

Apr 12, 2014

( —A group of Korean researchers have turned their focus on supplying a reliable, efficient power source for wearables. Professor Byung Jin Cho of the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology ...

User comments : 0

More news stories

Patent talk: Google sharpens contact lens vision

( —A report from Patent Bolt brings us one step closer to what Google may have in mind in developing smart contact lenses. According to the discussion Google is interested in the concept of contact ...

Wireless industry makes anti-theft commitment

A trade group for wireless providers said Tuesday that the biggest mobile device manufacturers and carriers will soon put anti-theft tools on the gadgets to try to deter rampant smartphone theft.