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Hundreds of safety issues found at European nuclear plants

The Forsmark nuclear plant in Sweden, one of the sites where safety problems were identified.

Photo by Anders Sandberg via Flickr under creative commons.

Hundreds of safety upgrades are needed at European nuclear reactors, according to an analysis of the continent’s power plants.

In the wake of the Fukushima disaster in Japan, the European Commission subjected all 145 reactors at EU nuclear power plants to ‘stress tests’ to determine whether they were in any danger. “Practically all” of the nuclear plants need safety improvements, and “hundreds of technical upgrade measures have been identified”, the commission’s report reveals.

Many power plants are also ill equipped to deal with a major disaster, with 24 reactors having no back-up control rooms that can be used if the primary one has to be abandoned. In reactors in Finland and Sweden, the stress testers found staff would have less than an hour to make the power plants safe if they lost power to the cooling systems or the cooling systems themselves.

In 37% of cases, the reactors’ earthquake risks had not been assessed to modern standards, a figure that rises to 43% for flood risk.

However, the commission insisted that the stress tests showed that standards were “generally high”.

Commissioner Günther Oettinger said in a statement: “The stress tests have revealed where we are good at and where we need to improve. Generally, the situation is satisfactory but there is no room for complacency.”

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