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Safety of European nuclear plants eyed

Oct. 9, 2012 at 4:32 PM   |   Comments

BRUSSELS, Oct. 9 (UPI) -- Europe's nuclear power plants are ill-equipped to cope with a natural disaster like the 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan, a report has revealed.

Commissioned following the disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi plant in Japan, the investigation by the European Nuclear Safety Regulators Group used "stress tests" to assess the ability of European reactors to withstand the effects of a natural disaster, NewScientist.com reported Tuesday.

Of 145 reactors assessed, 121 had inadequate seismic instruments to detect earthquakes while 32 lacked venting systems to prevent pressure build-ups in reactor vessels if the primary cooling system fails, as happened at Fukushima, the investigators said.

Eighty-one reactors did not have adequate equipment on hand to deal with severe accidents such as earthquakes or floods, and 24 did not possess backup emergency control rooms, they said.

Still, the nuclear safety group reported, in the main the reactors operate safely and none need to be shut down.

"Generally, the situation is satisfactory, but there is no room for complacency," EU energy commissioner Gunther Oettinger said.

"All authorities involved must work to ensure that the highest safety standards are in force in every single nuclear power plant in Europe."

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