How safe are Europe’s nuclear power plants? The European Commission is due to present an authoritative answer this Thursday. It will be based on EU-wide safety checks which were begun in June, after the nuclear crisis in Japan. The European Union has 143 reactors.
But on the eve of the Commission publishing its findings, the Greens in the European Parliament have been saying that not nearly enough factors may have been taken into account, nor enough detail and clarity.
Wolfgang Renneberg was asked to analyse the various national regulators’ first reports. He is a former chief of Germany’s nuclear safety authority.
He said: “The stress tests don’t contain security criteria and they do not give criteria for what is meant by sturdiness. This means the results will be quite random. The European Commission has no independent experts of its own, who would be capable of judging these stress tests, therefore the Commission depends on national experts. These national experts have always confirmed the security of their atomic plants up till now.”
Greens Group co-chair Rebecca Harms said behind the poor scrutiny lie ulterior motives.
Harms said: “The very weak nuclear stress tests of Europe is now delivering also alibis for nuclear installations outside Europe, especially in Japan. This weak stress tests shall serve as alibi to prolongs lifetime of reactors in Japan.”
EU energy commissioner Guenther Oettinger said last month he would not hesitate to ask for reports of better quality. Environmental watchdog Greenpeace is pretty sure he will have to.
Greenpeace EU spokesman Jack Hunter said: “None of the tests carried out so far look at emergency evacuation plans. That’s important because there are 19 nuclear power plants that are within 30 kilometres of big towns and cities. Other areas that they ignore are the problem of plane crashes, large plane crashes into nuclear power plants, and also the threat of multiple reactor failure. Those last two, in most cases, are ignored.”
An earthquake and tsunami triggered Japan’s meltdown and massive radiation leaks in March. Europe has firm plans for 24 new reactors, six of them already under construction.