[Go to navigation]

11.05.2011

Nuclear stress tests

Energy commissioner Oettinger must ensure stress tests are not a meaningless fig leaf

Tomorrow, a meeting of nuclear safety regulators from all EU member states (ENSReg) will decide on the criteria for the planned EU nuclear stress tests. The Greens last week expressed concern (1) about draft criteria proposed by regulators from member states with nuclear energy (WENRA) and are urging EU energy commissioner Oettinger to ensure that any EU nuclear stress tests apply the strictest criteria (2). Ahead of the ENSReg meeting, Greens/EFA co-president Rebecca Harms said:

"It is crucial that any EU-defined nuclear stress tests exhaustively and rigorously assess all safety issues that confront nuclear reactors; anything short of this would mean the stress tests are little more than a fig leaf for the industry to mask the very real safety concerns with nuclear power. EU energy commissioner Oettinger has publicly stated his desire to ensure this is the case, criticising the weak draft stress test criteria proposed by WENRA last week. Tomorrow's meeting of EU nuclear safety regulators will provide the real test of commissioner Oettinger's commitment and his ability to stick up to those nuclear member states, like France and the UK, that want weak criteria.

"If they are to be meaningful, EU stress tests must be exhaustive and assess all risks. This means assessing the risk of terrorist attacks, as well as the impact of plane crashes, and human error. They must not be reduced to a list of the technical specifications of nuclear reactors aimed at withstanding earthquakes or floods."

Green energy spokesperson Claude Turmes added:

"The stress tests must not turn a blind eye to the serious deficiencies in the ageing EU fleet of nuclear reactors, which pose safety risks independently of external factors. This means also assessing the increased risks from the ageing components and outdated designs of decades-old reactors. Storage facilities for spent nuclear fuel must also be included in the stress tests, as Fukushima has shown that these can pose the greatest risk.

"Any stress tests that fall short of this complete assessment will be little more than an exercise in deception and commissioner Oettinger should not associate himself or the EU Commission with such an exercise."

(1) See the Green press release on the draft WENRA criteria here

(2) See a complete Green assessment of the draft stress tests: here