In the wake of Fukushima, European Union officials pledged to create stress tests for the 143 nuclear power plants in the EU, that would evaluate the threat posed by natural disasters, terrorism, cyberwar and human error. Now it turns out that that nuclear regulators are unwilling to accept stricter scrutiny and the plans are likely to get watered down.
Western European nuclear regulators are now staunchly rejecting calls for rigorous tests, Süddeutsche Zeitung reported in its May 4 edition. The regulators reportedly stated in an internal paper that they would only agree to conduct stress tests involving natural disaster scenarios -- and not terrorist strikes or other manmade situations. Instead, they would agree to compose reports on potential threats that would be submitted to the European Commission in Brussels. Neither would independent nuclear experts be given access to the plants under the plan.
European Commission sources told the newspaper that France and Britain have led the efforts to oppose more stringent stress tests. With France's 59 plants and Britain's 19, the two operate the largest number of nuclear power plants of any countries in Europe. Government officials in Paris and London have already stated that they plan to rely more heavily on nuclear power in the future despite the Fukushima disaster. Officials in London also stated they would not publish the results of the stress tests, which are expected to be completed by December.
Such a stress tests will not give a comprehensive and transparent risk assessment of the European nuclear installations. If developed in such a way the stress tests will only serve as "alibi tests" so nuclear operators can continue their business-as usual.
On May 11, the European nuclear lobby organisation Foratom said that "Including terrorist attacks or cyber-attacks as stress-test criteria would mean the checks will take more time and authorities won't be able to make the results public." And continued: "Our feeling is that citizens in Europe are waiting for the results and we should announce them without delays. People don't want to make things political and it's
important to prove that nuclear plants in Europe are safe."
Or... people want results now - therefore we should not do stress tests, but simply tell them it's OK...., commented Greenpeace spokesperson Jan Haverkamp
We ask you to take urgent action on this issue! Put pressure on Commissioner Oettinger by writing him an E-Mail expressing your concern and protest. Your protest for a genuine stress test on nuclear power plants in Europe. Go to www.nofaketest.eu.
Sources: www.nofaketest.eu; Der Spiegel, 5 May 2011; Bloomberg, 11 May 2011