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Nuclear safety improvements urged across Europe

The European Commission has called for further improvements in the safety features of “almost all European nuclear power plants”.

The Commission made the recommendation after carrying out nuclear stress tests, which established that not all international best practices were applied in all member states.

Commissioner Günther Oettinger said: “The tests were serious, and they were a success. Generally, the situation is satisfactory but there is no room for complacency.

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

The Commission said the following lessons needed to be taken from Fukushima:

  • Earthquake and flooding risk. Current standards for risk calculation are not applied in 54 reactors for earthquake risk and 62 reactors for flooding risk out of the 145 checked. The risk calculation should be based on a 10,000 year time frame, instead of the much shorter time periods sometimes used.
  • On-site seismic instruments to measure and alert of possible earthquakes should be available at every nuclear power plant. These instruments should be installed or improved in 121 reactors.
  • Containment filtered venting systems to allow safe depressurizing of the reactor containment in case of an accident should be in place – 32 reactors are not yet equipped with these systems.
  • Equipment to fight severe accidents should be stored in places protected even in the event of general devastation and from where it can be quickly obtained. This is not the case for 81 reactors in the EU.
  • A backup emergency control room should be available in case the main control room becomes inhabitable in case of an accident. These are not yet available in 24 reactors.

Cumbrian radioactive waste blow

A blow has been dealt to the search for a site to store Cumbria’s higher activity radioactive waste.

Three councils have delayed a decision on whether to allow detailed searches until January 2013.

Allerdale Borough Council, Copeland Borough Council and Cumbria County will use the time to seek clarification from the Department of Energy and Climate Change on a number of issues.

Councillor Eddie Martin, leader of Cumbria County Council, said: “Members don’t yet feel we’re in a position where we have all the information needed to make a decision on whether to continue to engage in the Managing Radioactive Waste Safely process.” 


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