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EU nuclear safety test must cover 'man-made' events: Barroso

by Staff Writers
Brussels (AFP) May 11, 2011
Tests on the ability of Europe's nuclear power plants to withstand disasters should include man-made events, the head of the European Commission said Wednesday.

European nuclear regulators and EU energy chief Guenther Oettinger meet Thursday to draw up the parameters for a safety sweep of Europe's 143 nuclear reactors in the wake of the Fukushima atomic crisis in Japan.

The scope of the tests is the subject of controversy.

Oettinger is pushing for simulated responses to terror attacks and plane crashes to be undertaken as part of the exercise, while regulators from Europe's 14 nuclear nations want to limit them to natural disasters.

"These tests should be comprehensive and include the widest range of scenarios, natural and man-made, focusing on their possible impact on the plants' functioning systems," Jose Manuel Barroso said.

"I hope this can be agreed tomorrow," he added.

Barroso did not explicitly mention terrorism or plane accidents but his office said his position was the same as Oettinger's.

The latter told the European Parliament on Tuesday that he would refuse to sign off on "softer stress tests."

He said the commission will present to the national regulators late Wednesday proposals that would take into account every risk, including human factors, failures, terror and cyber attacks, and plane crashes.

The head of the French nuclear safety regulator, Andre-Claude Lacoste, said it was "not possible to conduct serious tests on the terror risk in such a short delay."

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