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EU calls for nuclear plant 'stress tests'

March 21, 2011 at 6:29 PM   |   Comments

BRUSSELS, March 21 (UPI) -- European Union ministers say they'll call for a "stress test" of EU nuclear power plants in the wake of the Japanese nuclear disaster.

At a meeting of the European Energy Council in Brussels Monday they supported calls to review existing safety measures and will consider a range of impacts, including seismic activity, flooding and power loss at reactors, the BBC reported.

"There is a shared willingness among member states to launch the process for defining a comprehensive risk and safety assessment ... of nuclear power plants in Europe," Tama Fellegi, national development minister for Hungary, said.

"Many member states have said that considering the circumstances, it would be really good to see the process underway before the end of the year," he said, referring to the ongoing crisis at Japan's Fukushami Daiichi nuclear power station.

Environment groups say they worry the proposed assessment will not be enough.

"Europe should realize that it doesn't take a major earthquake to cause a cooling-related nuclear crisis -- about half Europe's reactors are of particular concern," Greenpeace EU nuclear policy adviser Jan Haverkamp said.

The assessment should be "compulsory, transparent, independent and go beyond current safety testing," Greenpeace said. "They should also lead to the rapid closure of plants which fail this test."

"It remains to be seen whether the stress tests being talked about for nuclear plants will be more than a fig leaf for business-as-usual," Haverkamp said.

EU Energy Commissioner Gunther Oettinger acknowledged nuclear power remained a divisive issue within the union.

"Let's be under no illusion -- not everyone agrees on nuclear power," he said after the council meeting.

"There very few questions where national governments and parliaments have such a disparity of views as they do on nuclear energy -- there are 14 states with nuclear power, and there are 13 without it."

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