BRUSSELS--All 143 nuclear reactors in 14 European Union countries that were subjected to "stress tests" are considered free from grave safety risks, according to interim reports disclosed by Friday.
A stress test is a new, more stringent type of reactor resilience inspection to determine safety risks.
The nuclear power plant operators of the 14 nations have submitted the interim reports to the European Commission, the EU's executive arm, via the respective countries' nuclear regulatory organizations.If no major changes to the interim reports are made in the final reports scheduled to be worked out in June, no reactor is likely to be shut down and decommissioned, according to experts.
Some civic bodies, however, are skeptical, saying the tests are woefully inadequate in making nuclear safety assessments.
The EU countries embarked on the stress tests in June in the wake of the crisis at Tokyo Electric Power Co.'s Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.
The tests are designed to gauge whether the reactors are capable of withstanding natural disasters or other threats, including terrorist attacks. The tests exceed the standards set by individual governments.
The French Nuclear Safety Authority (ASN), the nuclear safety watchdog of France, which has 58 reactors, the largest number among EU nations, said it had reached the conclusion that none of the country's 150 nuclear facilities, including nuclear power plants under construction and nuclear research laboratories, need to undergo emergency safety measures.
British regulators believe that additional safety arrangements are needed for some of its nuclear power plants, such as enhancing measures against flooding and strengthening cooling systems. They said, however, that no reactor appeared to be immediately vulnerable to safety problems.
In the Czech Republic, where old-fashioned reactors designed during the days of the former Soviet Union are still in operation, regulators said none of its reactors required any urgent safety measures.
The interim reports presented by other countries also said their reactors had sufficient resilience to withstand flooding and other natural disasters.
Dutch nuclear regulators, however, described the interim report by the country's nuclear facility operator inadequate, and are reportedly planning to call for new stress tests.
The European Commission is scheduled to explain the interim reports at a summit meeting in December of EU member nations.
Mutual verification procedures will then be carried out among EU nations, with the participation of officials from the commission and third-party experts, before submission of the final reports, commission officials said.
(Oct. 2, 2011)