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Dublin: 9 °C Wednesday 20 November, 2019

EU leaders call for worldwide nuclear stress tests

European leaders have committed to putting their 143 reactors through the toughest security checks possible in the wake of the Japanese nuclear crisis.

European Commissioner for Energy Guenther Oettinger.
European Commissioner for Energy Guenther Oettinger.
Image: AP Photo/Yves Logghe

EUROPEAN UNION LEADERS called for worldwide stress testing of nuclear plants on Friday and committed to putting their 143 reactors through the toughest security checks possible.

France, one of the nations most reliant on nuclear energy, with 58 reactors, said it would immediately close any plant if it failed a test.

At the end of a two-day summit, the EU nations agreed to submit their nuclear plants to tough safety tests by year-end and promised to heed the lessons from the accident at Japan’s Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear complex.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said the 27 leaders agreed “on uniform euro stress tests and the highest possible safety standards.”

“The experience of Japan has to be reflected in the new stress tests. This is not business as usual,” she said.

Merkel’s comments come two wexeks since a magnitude-9 quake triggered a tsunami that knocked out the Fukushima reactor’s cooling system. Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan said Friday the fight to stabilize the plant remains “very grave and serious,” as officials said they suspected there was a breach in the core of a reactor that could mean more serious contamination.

The fallout has set off fears of the biggest radioactive contamination since the 1986 disaster at Ukraine’s Chernobyl, which spewed radiation across a wide distance and continues to haunt Europeans.

“European stress tests will be prepared in a coordinated fashion,” Merkel said after the summit. “The aim is the highest possible safety standard,” she said, insisting the EU would press for other European nations to follow suit.

EU officials will follow up the nuclear issue during talks in Ukraine next month. Nuclear energy is key for Ukraine, a country of 46 million. Ukraine today operates 15 reactors at four power plants, which generate nearly half of all its electricity.

“Because the danger does not stop at our borders, we encourage and support neighboring countries to do similar stress-tests,” said EU President Herman Van Rompuy. “A worldwide review of nuclear plants would be best.”

There are currently 442 nuclear power reactors in operation around the globe, with 65 more under construction. Five are in long-term shutdown.

- AP

Read  more: Germany set to abandon nuclear power >

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