Friday, May 20, 2011

German nuclear plants fail safety test

A German nuclear power plant (file photo)

Source: Press TV

A “worst-case scenario” test of Germany's nuclear reactors has revealed that none of the European country's seventeen nuclear reactors would withstand a disastrous event.

The study by the country's Reactor Safety Commission concluded that all the power plants are vulnerable when it comes to an “event of extreme disaster,” the German magazine, Spiegel, reported.

The plants fell short in meeting the highest safety standard, level three, in different facets of the tests. They even failed to achieve an overall average of the medium standard, level two.

Among the events envisaged in the tests were earthquakes, flooding, power failure and plane crashes.

The report, however, did not recommend the closure of any of the reactors.

Germany's Environment Minister Norbert Rottgen, also responsible for the country's energy affairs, also said there was no urgent need to shut any reactor.

"There is no reason for us to make a mad rush to stop using nuclear power overnight," he said, adding, "It remains the case that a way must be found for us to leave nuclear power behind as soon as possible."

However, he pointed out that the plants lacked the "required safety features," and would probably have to be closed before their scheduled shutdown date.

Rottgen also acknowledged that four reactors would not even withstand the impact of a small airplane crash.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has attempted to respond to public concerns over the safety of nuclear energy in the country by holding two commissions that sought advice on the future of the atomic energy in the European country.

She also ordered the review of the reactors' safety after a nuclear disaster was triggered by an earthquake in Japan, and imposed a moratorium on her last year's decision to extend the lifetimes of Germany's nuclear plants.

The plants were due to be taken offline by 2021 under legislation passed by the government of former Chancellor Gerhard Schroder.

The current legislation requires all of Germany's nuclear plants to be shut down by 2036.

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