‘Practically all’ of EU’s nuclear reactors need safety improvements
“Practically all” of the 134 nuclear reactors in the European Union need safety improvements at a cost of up to £20 billion, a bill that is likely to be passed on to the consumer in higher electricity prices.
The European Commission undertook an EU-wide safety review after the earthquake and tsunami in Japan, which killed 16,000 people and damaged the Fukushima nuclear plant.
British reactors were included in “stress tests” to see if European atomic power plants could handle earthquakes at the same level as the Japanese tsunami disaster or comparable, once in a millennium, natural catastrophes.
“Based on the stress tests, national regulators concluded that there are no technical reasons requiring the shutdown of any nuclear power plant in Europe,” the commission’s report concluded.
“However, practically all NPPs need to undergo safety improvements, as hundreds of technical upgrade measures have been identified.”
“National safety authorities came to the conclusion that no closure of nuclear power plants was warranted,” he said.
“The situation is satisfactory but there is no room for complacency.”
The government said that the EU reactor tests had backed up findings from the British nuclear inspectorate that “the UK’s nuclear safety regulatory regime remains robust.”
“”The stress tests undertaken on UK nuclear power stations found no significant weaknesses,” said a spokesman. “There is no evidence that UK nuclear facilities are unsafe.”
But Mr Oettinger, from Germany where atomic power is being phased out, announced that he was planning to introduce new EU legislation next compelling the industry to take out liability insurance based on largely theoretical risks of nuclear disaster.
“The obligation to have insurance cover will lead to costs that will be reflected in the cost to the consumer of buying electricity. Certainly this will not lead to nuclear energy becoming more competitive,” he said.