Europe's nuclear reactors face natural disaster tests
Published 16/03/2011 | 05:00
ALL of Europe's nuclear reactors will be subjected to natural disaster tests because of the crisis at Japan's Fukushima Daiichi plant.
Yesterday's decision came after Germany announced the shutdown of seven atomic plants built before 1980.
Guenther Oettinger, the EU's energy commissioner, warned that a third explosion and fire at the Fukushima plant yesterday heralded the world's worst nuclear disaster.
"There is talk of an apocalypse and I think the word is particularly well chosen," he said.
Mr Oettinger said that "stress" testing was needed to ensure that Europe's 143 reactors could withstand earthquakes and other emergencies.
"We want the safety of all reactors to be reviewed in the light of events in Japan," he said. "It has to raise the question of whether we in Europe, in the foreseeable future, can secure our energy needs without nuclear power?"
Chris Huhne, Britain's energy minister, said that he regretted "the fact that some continental politicians do seem to be rushing to judgment before we have had the proper assessment".
"We take this incident extremely seriously even though there is no reason to expect a similar scale of seismic activity in the UK."
The EU is split over nuclear power, which is used in 14 European countries and accounts for about 15pc of energy generation in total.
Austria has a total ban while France has 58 nuclear reactors producing 80pc of its energy. Germany relies on nuclear for 23pc of its power but has a freeze on the construction of new reactors.
Britain operates 19 reactors that provide a fifth of the country's electricity.
In Ireland, the Green Party has warned of the potential dangers nuclear power would pose were Ireland to go down that route for its own needs.
Alain Juppe, the French foreign minister, speaking at a Paris G8 meeting announced a national debate on safety but insisted that "to say to the French that we are going to give up nuclear power would be lying".
In Britain, the government asked the chief nuclear inspector to report on what implications the Japanese crisis could have for the country's nuclear energy sector. (© Daily Telegraph, London)