Report says EU nuclear plants need better safety

October 4, 2012 by Raf Casert
European Commissioner for Energy Guenther Oettinger addresses the media on the risk and safety assessment of nuclear power plants in the EU, at the European Commission headquarters in Brussels, Thursday, Oct. 4, 2012. (AP Photo/Yves Logghe)

(AP)—The cost of needed improvements to the 145 nuclear reactors in the European Union could run as high as €25 billion ($32 billion) over the coming years, the bloc's energy commissioner said Thursday.

A new EU report released Thursday said that carried out in the wake of the March 2011 Fukushima in Japan showed that almost all of the EU plants needed .

Officials said earlier that the tests did not reveal the need to close any of the EU immediately.

EU leaders agreed last year to put the reactors through the toughest possible to gauge their ability to withstand accidents and natural disasters.

EU Energy Commissioner Guenther Oettinger said nuclear plants "nearly everywhere" needed improvements to reach the highest safety level, ranging from ensuring more time to react to an electricity blackout to adding more to detect earthquakes.

"At least €10 billion ($13 billion) will need to be invested in the EU and possibly up to €25 billion," Oettinger said.

The report also called for more consistency across the 27-nation EU in assessing and managing nuclear safety threats.

Backdropped by the dome of the nuclear reactor of Sizewell nuclear plant, commissioned in 1995, workers perform their duties, in eastern England, in this Monday June 5, 2006 file photo. EU Energy Commissioner Guenther Oettinger says the cost of necessary improvements at the 145 nuclear reactors in the 27-nation European Union could be as high as euro 25 billion ($32 billion) over the coming years. A European Union report released Thursday Oct 4 2012 says stress tests carried out in the wake of the March 2011 Fukushima accident in Japan show that almost all the plants need safety improvements. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis, File)

"Hundreds of technical upgrade measures have been identified," the report said.

EU leaders will now assess the report at their Oct. 18-19 summit in Brussels.

The report criticized authorities for not taking the latest standards into account to assess risks.

For earthquake and flooding risks, standards now called for an assessment based on occurrences of the past 10,000 years, while many use a shorter timeframe in their models.

Equipment to fight severe accidents was not stored for quick retrieval in 56 percent of cases, and almost everywhere equipment that issues alerts about earthquakes should be upgraded or installed, the report said.

In case of an electricity blackout, five EU reactors would not be able to cope for more than an hour without intervention.

Since upgrading such deficiencies would push up the costs of using nuclear technology, critics urged the EU to spend the money instead on renewable energy.

"We'd better invest that money in sustainable energy production instead of fixing an aging and life-threatening technology," said socialist EU lawmaker Kathleen Van Brempt.

European nuclear plants are already regularly checked, but under the stress test system, the checks were toughened and coordinated across the EU before facing peer review by a multinational team of experts.

Still, Greenpeace said the tests were far too lenient toward the nuclear industry.

"The tests still led to alarming results. A more stringent review would have been devastating for most reactors," said Greenpeace expert Tobias Riedl.

Explore further: EU to mull 'stress tests' for nuclear plants


Related Stories

EU to mull 'stress tests' for nuclear plants

March 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.

Compromise found in EU nuclear safety testing row

May 13, 2011

European nations split over whether to include the threat of terror attacks in stress tests to be carried out on the continent's reactors have reached a key compromise, diplomats said Friday.

EU to test nuclear plants' safety after bargaining

May 25, 2011

The European Union's energy chief said Wednesday he was satisfied with a deal to conduct EU-wide safety checks on nuclear plants even though tests on terror attacks were left for another day.

Brussels unhappy with Europe nuclear stress tests

April 26, 2012

The EU's energy chief Thursday deemed an almost year-long study on nuclear plant safety in Europe as short on detail and numbers and demanded further work before publication of the critical report.

Recommended for you

US Navy keeps electromagnetic cannon in its sights

June 25, 2016

The US Navy is quietly pushing ahead with a radical new cannon that one day could transform how wars are fought, even though some Pentagon officials have voiced concerns over its cost and viability.

Flower power—photovoltaic cells replicate rose petals

June 24, 2016

With a surface resembling that of plants, solar cells improve light-harvesting and thus generate more power. Scientists of KIT (Karlsruhe Institute of Technology) reproduced the epidermal cells of rose petals that have particularly ...

Video privacy software lets you select what others can see

June 28, 2016

Camera-equipped smartphones, laptops and other devices make it possible to share ideas and images with anyone, anywhere, often in real-time. But in our cameras-everywhere culture, the risk of accidentally leaking sensitive ...

Computer model demonstrates how human spleen filters blood

June 27, 2016

Researchers, led by Carnegie Mellon University President Subra Suresh and MIT Principal Research Scientist Ming Dao, have created a new computer model that shows how tiny slits in the spleen prevent old, diseased or misshapen ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.