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April 19, 2021

Nuclear accident in Japan got Europe astir

The Energy Ministers in the 27 EU member states, the national authorities in the nuclear security domain and operators in the nuclear energy sector convened, yesterday, in Brussels, in an emergency meeting to address the security of the nuclear plants across the EU.

The risk of a major nuclear accident in Japan stirred a new wave of concern in Europe as regards this energy source and compelled the authorities to consider a closer watch on the numerous nuclear plants in Europe.

The European Commissioner for Energy, Günther Oettinger, invited top-level representatives in the nuclear energy domain from all member states, to an emergency meeting on the security of nuclear plants on the EU territory. The meeting took place yesterday afternoon, in Brussels, and Romania was represented by Vajda Borbala, the chair of the National Committee for Nuclear Activity Watch (CNCAN). According to HotNews, the EU was to consider, in this meeting, performing resistance tests for the European nuclear plants.

The European officials’ concern seems warranted, given that most EU countries have nuclear plants: France (19 plants and 58 reactors), the United Kingdom (9 and, respectively, 19), Germany (12 and 17), Sweden (7 and 16), Spain (6 and 9), Belgium (2 and 7), Finland (4 reactors), Hungary (4), Bulgaria (2), Greece (1), Lithuania (1), Holland (2), Romania (2), Slovakia (4), Slovenia (1) and the Czech Republic (6).
Austria, which uses nuclear power exclusively for scientific purposes, also called for resistance tests in European nuclear plants. “Our neighbours all rely on nuclear energy,” the Austrian Environment Minister, Nikolaus Berlakovitch, stated. “In our turn, we require maximum safety for the Austrian population, and all our neighbours have to be able to guarantee their own people’s safety,” Berlakovitch added, quoted by Realitatea TV.

“Paris aims at the highest level of security,” the French minister of the environment, sustainable development, transport and housing, Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet, vouched, in turn.

On the other hand, Switzerland, a country which is not an EU member, announced, at the beginning of this week, that it had suspended projects to renew nuclear plants, pending on the issuing of “stricter (security) norms.”


A prompt response came from Germany, in the voice of the Chancellor Angela Merkel, who announced, yesterday, that all nuclear plants which had become operational before 1980 would be closed for at least three months, in the context of the nuclear crisis in Japan, HotNews reports. Furthermore, the German government could decide on the details of a nuclear moratorium next week. The decision to shut down the plants is based on a government decree, not on agreements with the operators. It is to be seen whether these would re-open in June, when the moratorium ends.


Russian scientists forecast Moscow will be affected by a quake with a magnitude of 5 degrees on the Richter scale, coming from Vrancea (Romania). A statement to this effect was made, yesterday, by Evgheny Rogojin, the director of the Russian Academy of Sciences’ Institute for Earth Physics, Realitatea TV reports, quoting the Life News portal. Although he was reluctant to give a precise date for the future quake which would, supposedly, rock Moscow (via the Carpathians), the Russian academy member hinted that this event could occur in the next ten years or even earlier. The “S.I. Subbotin” Geophysics Institute, under the authority of the Ukrainian Academy of Sciences, forecasted, in turn, that several earthquakes would rock the Ukrainian soil in the near future. The Russian prime-minister Vladimir Putin called, yesterday, for an analysis of the prospects of the Russian nuclear sector.


Despite the general mood of concern, representatives of the state-owned company Nuclearelectrica try to quell panic: “The Cernavoda nuclear plant was designed to withstand quakes of a magnitude of 8 degrees Richter, and the maximum magnitude of quakes that may occur in Romania is 7-7.5 degrees.”
According to a release by the company, quoted by Realitatea TV, “in the case of a quake, the plant will stop operating, in nuclear security conditions, that is, the following functions will be ensured: stopping the reactor, cooling the active area and monitoring the nuclear security parameters.” The CANDU 6 nuclear security technology, used by the Cernavoda plant, provides two groups of special systems which are designed on different action principles, placed in discrete locations and with independent source drives. “These security characteristics provide sufficient arguments to go on with the reactors 3 and 4 project,” the release further reads.

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