Nuclear stress tests find serious safety problems, but still only scratch the surface

Press release - October 4, 2012
So-called ‘stress tests’ of Europe’s nuclear plants have revealed serious safety problems across the continent, but avoided asking some of the most difficult questions, Greenpeace said.

Greenpeace activists projecting "No more Fukushima" in Spanish on the Almaraz Nuclear Power Plant in Spain shortly after the Japanese disaster.


The European Commission is today expected to publish its assessment of tests carried out by European nuclear plant operators and regulators on the continent’s nuclear power plants following the Fukushima disaster. These have revealed hundreds of problems, including four reactors that would have under an hour to restore safety functions if a power blackout occurred. Ten reactors were found not to have proper equipment to detect earthquakes. The Commission estimates that the cost of addressing these failures could be up to €25 billion.

But the exercise dodged major questions such as the threat from terrorism, plane crashes, off-site emergency plans, and the same multiple disaster scenarios that sparked the Fukushima crisis and the stress tests in the first place, Greenpeace said. The tests also ignored the age of plants and so missed suspected cracks in ageing reactor vessels that led to two Belgian reactors being shut down in recent months [1].

Greenpeace spokesperson Mark Breddy said: “It’s not surprising that the tests, though limited, have uncovered major concerns. Nuclear power is inherently risky and failures, accidents and close calls happen all the time. But there are serious safety issues that the stress tests haven’t looked into. EU governments must act fast by shutting down the oldest and most risky plants and by ordering more thorough testing on the remaining plants.”

About half of Europe’s nuclear plants are of particular concern, either because they lack secondary radioactive containment, because they are in earthquake zones, or because the reactors are old [2].

EU heads of state and government are expected to discuss the Commission assessment at a meeting in Brussels on 18 and 19 October. Greenpeace believes nuclear power should be rapidly phased out in favour of renewables and energy efficiency. The European Commission predicts renewables will become the major power source for the EU in its recent 2050 energy roadmap [3].

To find out more about the shortcomings of the stress tests, see: Nuclear stress tests - flaws, blind spotsand complacency

 Notes for editors:

[1] For more information, click here.
[2] For more information, click here.
[3] For more information, click here.

Contact: Greenpeace EU press desk: +32 (0)2 274 1911, 

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