Europe’s Nuclear Power Plants in Urgent Need of Upgrades

B. McPherson
This report is very worrisome. 

A leaked report on the state of Europe’s nuclear power stations has pointed out the urgent need for upgrades that could cost the countries up to $32 billion to complete. The report also pointed out widely varying standards of safety among the 14 member states that participated in the stress tests which are designed to highlight weaknesses in the safety of the electrical plants.

A worrisome aspect of the leaked report is they revealed that enforcement of current safety standards was needed. Currently 12 of the member states have failed to meet safety standards. Four reactors were found to have less than one hour of before catastrophic damage if their electrical power were interrupted. The report also cited plants in Spain, France and the Czech Republic that lacked adequate earthquake detectors.

France is heavily dependent on nuclear generated electricity, producing 80% of their needs this way. Of the 58 power stations in the country, none met all the safety requirements.

While many of the power stations were unlikely to be hit with a tsunami, safety considerations demand that they be protected against flooding, earthquakes and loss of their cooling ability.

Safety considerations have become more urgent since the catastrophic failure in Japan of the Fukushima Daiichi complex in March of 2011. Some countries have committed to a total phase out of the plants, while others remain heavily dependent on the “peaceful atom”.

Greenpeace spokesman Roger Spautz had more to say on the subject:

He cited independent research earlier this year which said some European reactors needed to be shut down immediately, as well as the example of Belgium, where the Doel 3 and Tihange 2 reactors have been halted because of suspected cracks. Al Jazeera

In spite of the preliminary information being leaked before the official presentation of the report, Greenpeace is questioning whether the safety commission was as rigorous as they should have been in conducting the stress tests.

This comes as very bad news to the European community. The cost of bringing the plants up to adequate safety standards is high but far less than the cost in health and money if a disaster like Fukushima occurred. The European Union is struggling with member states who already cannot pay their debts. Adding billions to their bills to cope with this latest crisis will surely add to their woes.

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