EU to Enhance Nuclear Safety
From New Europe
By Elena Ralli
EU nuclear power plants are safe, however, a series of improvements have to take place in order to ensure even greater protection from extreme natural events. Following the accident in the Fukushima nuclear power plant in Japan on March 11, 2011, the EU decided to reassess the level of nuclear safety in all nuclear power plants in the EU. The results were overall positive, but all 14 Member States with nuclear power plants and Switzerland have prepared national action plans to strengthen safety.
The stress tests for the nuclear power plants consisted of three phases. These included a self-assessment, two national regulators evaluating the self-assessments and drafting country reports and finally, multinational teams organized by ENSREG, the group of national safety authorities of all 27 Member States, analyzing these reports. In addition, the peer review teams have visited nuclear power plant sites in 17 countries (all 14 EU countries with operating nuclear power plants, Lithuania with a plant under decommissioning, plus Ukraine and Switzerland).
Improvements have already started in several Member States and deal with mechanisms to cope with natural disasters such as earthquakes, fires, extreme weather phenomena, floods etc. These measures could cost up to €200 million per reactor unit. As there are 132 nuclear reactors in the EU, the overall cost of improvements could mount up to €25 billion. The European Commission and ENSREG will review the status of the implementation of the recommendations by June 2014.
Moreover, the Commission intends to propose a revised Nuclear Safety Directive and it has also launched a study to identify possible gaps and develop proposals for improvements regarding nuclear safety in all Member States.
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