Monday

17th Jun 2019

Nuclear stress tests fail EU scrutiny

  • A freak green-coloured snowfall in Russia on the day of the Chernobyl anniversary caused public concern (Photo: ipinkbear)

Twenty-six years to the day after the Chernobyl disaster, the European Commission has said Europe's nuclear stress test study is lacking in essential data.

The year-long tests - initiated in March 2011 following the Fukushima meltdown in Japan - are designed to show that European-based nuclear power plants pose no threat.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

The European Commission, a self-declared friend of the nuclear sector, on Thursday (26 April) said the study has failed to provide a complete picture however. The commission intends to fill in the missing data by returning to the sites.

"We will do additional visits of power plants and analyse some safety aspects in more detail. EU citizens have the right to know and understand how safe the nuclear power plants are they live close to. Soundness is more important than timing," EU energy commissioner Gunther Oettinger in a statement.

The commission and the European Nuclear Safety Regulators Group (Esnreg) want to see if Europe's nuclear plants can withstand the force of natural disasters, airplane crashes, fires and terrorist attacks.

Nuclear plant operators carried out self-assessment tests and handed in their reports to national regulators last year. The national regulatory authorities then analysed and verified the findings, which were finally compiled into national progress reports.

The national reports were submitted to the Commission for peer review from experts in nuclear safety. But Ensreg found a lack of consistency in the assessment of natural hazards and a need for regular assessments and implementations of known safety measures.

Ensreg pointed out that emergency response centres need to be improved, rapid deployment and availability of rescue teams and equipment for local operators also need to be improved. Tankers and other "mobile equipment" are not adequately protected against extreme natural hazards, it added.

Some 147 nuclear power stations underwent the tests in 15 member states as well as Ukraine and Switzerland. Lithuania, which has decommissioned its two nuclear reactors but which is building a new one, also participated.

Lithuania's new reactor at the Ignalina site is in a known earthquake zone. It signed a preliminary contract with Hitachi on 30 March. The plant is scheduled to become operational by 2020.

Belarus - not part of the survey - is also building a large nuclear power station in the region, just 50 kilometers away from Vilnius.

The Geological Survey of Lithuania says around 40 earthquakes of significant size have struck the region, near and around the Belarus-border, since the 17th century. "The area selected for the new [Belarus facility] experienced the strongest earthquake ... in the history of Belarus," the Lithuanian foreign ministry told EUobsever by email in March. The 7.0 quake struck in 1909.

In 2001, the Ignalina area registered a 2.1 quake. A tremor in 2004 registered 5.3 on the Richter scale in Vilnius.

The commission statement came out on the 26th anniversary of the Chernobyl disaster.

A freak green-coloured snowfall in Russia the same day raised public worries that something had gone wrong again. But Russian authorities said the phenomenon was caused by pollen.

Thousands of cracks found in Belgian nuclear power plant

Belgium’s nuclear safety chief, Willy De Roovere, on Thursday said there could be thousands of cracks in the reactor vessel of the ageing Doel 3 nuclear reactor situated 25 km outside Antwerp and 3 km from the Dutch border.

Use 25% of budget on climate change, urge EU states

A discussion document by eight EU countries is piling on the pressure for the EU to do more to fight climate change. But their demands are likely to meet German resistance as leaders gather in Romania to discuss Europe's future.

News in Brief

  1. Swiss stock exchange could lose EU access in July
  2. Austria's Strache will not take up EU parliament seat
  3. Tanker attacks pose questions for EU on Iran deal
  4. Johnson skips TV debate for UK prime ministership
  5. Slovakia's first female president takes office
  6. Irish immigration officers flew back business class
  7. Catalan MEP denied taking seat in European Parliament
  8. EU plans to restructure eurozone bonds

Greens commit to air quality 'super commissioner'

Following an investigation into the Dieselgate scandal, the European Parliament recommended a single commissioner should be responsible for both air quality and setting industrial standards. But only the Greens want to commit to carry out that advice.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNo evidence that social media are harmful to young people
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersCanada to host the joint Nordic cultural initiative 2021
  3. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work
  5. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  6. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  7. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  8. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  9. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody

Latest News

  1. Spain's Garcia set to be next Socialist leader in parliament
  2. Erdogan mocks Macron amid EU sanctions threat
  3. The most dangerous pesticide you've never heard of
  4. 'Russian sources' targeted EU elections with disinformation
  5. Top EU jobs summit dominates This WEEK
  6. EP parties planning 'coalition agenda' ahead of jobs summit
  7. MEP blasts Portugal over football whistleblower
  8. Catalonia MEPs are a judicial, not political, issue

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us