Concern over a nuclear crisis developing in Japan has led the European Union to agree to “stress test” all of their nuclear reactors.
EU Energy Commissioner Guenther Oettinger said Tuesday that “there was a general agreement” to conduct the stress tests.
“Nobody spoke against the stress test proposal,” he said. “We want to look at the risk and safety issues in the light of events in Japan.”
The European commission spoke after emergency talks between ministers, national nuclear safety chiefs and industry leaders that were hastily called amid rising public concern in the wake of Japan’s nuclear emergency.
Oettinger said there were no existing EU rules to make the tests binding.
“Recognised experts will be responsible for carrying out the tests in the course of this year,” he added. “The tests will carry such authority that the necessary consequences will be drawn from them.”
“We want to operate if possible with everybody on board,” he said, adding the tests would be completed in 2011 and would start as soon as guidelines were reached on the criteria, reach and extent of the checks.
On the basis of the results “we want all the nuclear power plants to be reassessed in the light of events in Japan,” he added.
He also said he hoped to associate neighboring countries, Turkey, Russia and Switzerland, in the safety review.
In his letter of invitation to Tuesday’s talks, Oettinger said participants would look at operations at European reactors similar to those in Japan, while taking stock of earthquake contingency planning, cooling problems, and evacuation procedures.
“EU preparedness for parallel emergencies occurring at several nuclear installations” was also on the agenda.
Japan’s nuclear emergency Monday prompted Germany and Switzerland to halt nuclear programmes with Italy taking a hard look at its new nuclear energy plans but Poland saying it would press ahead with building it first plants.
Anti-nuclear lawmakers from Austria had demanded stress tests across Europe.
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