European Union ministers agreed on 21 March on the need for so-called nuclear reactor “stress tests,” but disagreed over the details of such tests, at an emergency meeting to discuss nuclear safety amid the Japanese crisis.
Energy ministers said checks on the region’s 143 atomic plants following Japan’s nuclear accident would probably get under way in the second half of this year on a voluntary basis…
Up to 13 of Germany’s 17 nuclear reactors could be temporarily suspended as experts carry out safety tests, after Merkel announced a three-month nuclear “moratorium” in response to the Japanese nuclear disaster.
“Europe should realize that it doesn’t take a major earthquake to cause a nuclear crisis … About half Europe’s reactors are of particular concern,” Greenpeace nuclear policy adviser Jan Haverkamp said in a statement.
Spanish Minister of Industry Miguel Sebastian said he was due to present EU ministers with a “concrete plan for Europe to respond to the (nuclear) crisis.” His proposals included a focus on developing energy efficiencies and renewable energies, revising carbon policies, a greater degree of interconnection between European energy networks and support for electric cars.
Italy: a new moratorium
The Italian government decided on Wednesday to suspend for one year its plans to phase nuclear power back in, and has given itself 24 months to come up with a more precise definition of its nuclear power strategy…The government initially stated that the problems in Fukushima would make no difference to Rome’s strategy.
But as many regional governments in Italy have expressed their opposition to nuclear energy, and the latest polls show that 53 per cent of Italians intend to vote “no”, the rhetoric has changed.
Germany: looking for alternatives
in the immediate aftermath of the Fukushima accident, the government ordered the seven oldest stations in Germany to be shut down temporarily. All 17 are to be subjected to tough safety examinations before June 15… Environment minister Norbert Röttgen has said that it would be possible to give up nuclear energy if renewable energies could account for 40 per cent of use.
Austria: constitutionally nuclear-free
Austria is the only EU neighbour of Switzerland which does not produce nuclear power. A referendum in 1978 decided by a narrow margin not to bring into operation its only nuclear power station, just completed at Zwentendorf.
Later that year a law was passed making it mandatory to hold a referendum before any nuclear power station could be built.