Nukewatch Quarterly Winter 2014
In the wake of the Fukushima disaster, Europeans want to change the Convention on Nuclear Safety to require countries to illustrate how they’ll manage emergency response in the event of another radiation disaster in which reactors run out of control and catastrophically meltdown.
The European Union’s efforts to strengthen the treaty’s requirements are opposed by the United States and Russia, whose representatives said in October that the improvements sounded too expensive.
Diplomats familiar with proposal, who spoke to Bloomberg News, on condition of anonymity, said they’re ready to compromise with the US and Russian and would drop demands to legally amend the convention in exchange for “binding commitments” to take safety more seriously in the future.
In Belgium, the future of the Doel-3 and Tihange-2 reactors has been challenged since cracks were found in their pressure vessels in 2012. Over half the world’s 438 power reactors are over 30 years old, according to the International Atomic Energy Agency. Reactor vessel cracks are a generic failure among old reactors and cracks have also been found in several old US units.
While the cracks pushed US regulators to examine reactors here built from the same materials, the Belgian flaws didn’t cause any US facilities to be closed. US reactor operators reviewed records and did computer modeling, but not direct and more costly ultrasonic inspections, as was done in Belgium.
Rebecca Harms, Co-President the of the European Parliament’s Green-European Free Alliance, which wants more rigorous reactor testing, told Bloomberg, “I would not like to see France investing $13 billion on improvements in nuclear safety and only around $3 billion in the US. This is obviously unbalanced.”
—Bloomberg News, Dec. 1, 2014
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