The tests are to cover natural disasters and accidentsImage: fotolia/Wamsler
May 25, 2011
After months of wrangling, European nuclear watchdogs have struck a deal on the details of safety checks for the continent's nuclear power plants. The "stress tests" will not include tests for resisting terror attacks.
The European Commission said Wednesday that a deal had been struck on the details of the so-called nuclear reactor stress tests and that the checks would be conducted at all power plants across Europe.
In the wake of the Fukushima meltdown - caused by an earthquake off the Japanese Pacific coast in March - European nations scrambled to put together a standard safety test but wrangled for months over its makeup.
The tests will be divided into two categories, EU Energy Commissioner Günther Oettinger said Wednesday, that are to screen for resilience to natural disasters as well as accidents caused by "human error."
The German Christian Democrat politician told public broadcaster Deutschland Funk that the stress tests would not screen vulnerability to terrorist attacks, however.
"The questions of how to defend against the dangers of terror do not belong to the tasks of the supranational authorities," Oettinger said, adding that such screening belonged to "each country's own internal national security."
"I respect that some member states say they don't want to show their cards. That could even abet terrorism."
Change in energy policy
Oettinger said the test was already in the process of being formulated and that it could be ready for implementation by December.
The deal looks set to have a profound impact on Europe's energy consumption, with demand for fossil fuel in Germany already having risen since Berlin suspended several of the country's older nuclear plants in March in response to the Fukushima disaster.
Amid growing anti-nuclear sentiment that has given rise to protests throughout the country, Chancellor Angela Merkel's center-right coalition is in the process of formulating its new energy policy.
Merkel is slated to meet with the premiers of the 16 federal states on June 3 to discuss the future of nuclear energy in Germany.
Author: Gabriel Borrud (Reuters, dapd) Editor: Martin Kuebler