Fukushima Fallout – The EU Answer

Photo by Lynne Kirton. Some rights reserved.

Following the nuclear incident at Fukushima in the wake of a massive earthquake and tsunami, the EU moved to assess its nuclear power plants for their readiness in a similar situation, as well as other potential major incidents both natural and manmade. Today, the results of those examinations were released.

For those looking for quick, easy-to-digest data, the European Commission’s memo  laid out a short series of questions and answers: number of reactors tested (145); types of events checked (extreme weather conditions, plane crashes, and extreme natural events such as the tsunami hit suffered by Fukushima); and highlights of the findings (37% of EU reactors aren’t up to recent standards for earthquakes; 43% didn’t meet the standards for flooding).

The EC also made available both the Communication from the Commission to the Council and the European Parliament  (a succinct but informative 20 pages) and the Commission Staff Working Document  (62 pages of extensive detail, including the key recommendations and a breakdown of results by country). While no EU nuclear plants were found to be in such poor shape as to require immediate closure, the findings still make it clear that more can be done to prepare for adverse events. The Working Document’s recommendations regarding “Station Black-Out” (a complete loss of power) include availability of an alternative cooling system; equipment and staff prepared to deal with an event affecting all onsite reactors at once; and supply/availability of mobile equipment including emergency lights, firefighting gear, and batteries or alternative power supplies – some or all of which could have turned the tide of events at Fukushima.

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