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EU Nuclear Plants Need Billions Worth of Repair

Stress tests on nuclear plants reveal hundreds of problems with plant safety

- Common Dreams staff

In a leaked draft report filed by a European Commission, hundreds of security and safety problems have been identified in EU's nuclear power plants. The Commission's findings are expected to be published on Thursday and discussed by the EU ministers at a summit later this month.

Nuclear power plant at Cattenom in Lorraine, France. Photo by Toucanradio via Flickr After the meltdown at the Fukushima nuclear power plant last year, the EU commissioned voluntary nuclear stress tests in all 17 european countries including Ukraine. The goal was to see how EU's plants would hold up under similar conditions: two natural disasters occurring simultaneously, knocking out power and preventing the cool down mechanism. The Commission tested for conditions that included flooding, tsunami and a plane crash. "If there is an accident that would completely destroy the electricity," the commission's spokeswoman Marlene Holster told Radio Free Europe, are "our power plants are prepared for that?"

The draft, obtained by Reuters, reported that almost all of the continent's 134 nuclear plants have problems that could cost as much as 10-25 billion euros to repair. Radio Free Europe reports significant problems in France, which generates 80% of its energy from nuclear sources. "To varying degrees, none of France's 58 nuclear power plants met the security standards set down by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)."

Despite the findings, the Commission can not enforce any of the participants to apply their recommendations. However, according to Reuters, their plan is to use their study to propose new laws, including insurance and liability to "improve the situation of potential victims in the event of a nuclear accident."

Jack Hunter of Greenpeace told Radio Free Europe that he hopes that the report will lead to an eventual phase-out of nuclear energy in Europe. "We would hope that increasingly in these member states, the population would press the leaders to move to a position where they would be in favor of moving out of nuclear [power]," Hunter said. "It is up to individual member states, though, how they chose their energy mix. So countries should heed what has been alerted today and move away from nuclear."