European Union’s Regulator Seeks Tougher Nuclear-Safety Law

The European Union’s regulatory arm proposed strengthening the bloc’s nuclear-safety legislation by setting up a system of peer reviews of atomic plants and enhancing emergency guidelines.

The draft law by the European Commission follows a series of stress tests on EU nuclear stations in response to Japan’s atomic accident caused by a 2011 earthquake and tsunami. The proposal would increase transparency on nuclear-safety matters and give more power to national regulators.

“It’s up to member states to decide if they want to produce nuclear energy or not,” EU Energy Commissioner Guenther Oettinger said today in a statement. “The fact remains that there are 132 nuclear reactors in operation in Europe today. Our task at the commission is to make sure that safety is given the utmost priority in every single one of them,” he said.

Those operating reactors are in 14 out of 27 member states, according to EU data. Four reactors are under construction and 16 to 17 are planned in countries including Lithuania, the Netherlands, Poland and the U.K. All new stations will need to be designed in such a way that potential damage to the core of a reactor would have no consequences outside the plant, according to the draft law.

The proposal introduces EU-wide, legally binding reviews of atomic plants to be carried out every six years by multinational teams. Governments will jointly agree on topic and common methodology of the reviews, the commission said.

EU governments will be responsible for ensuring that the release of radioactivity is “practically eliminated” in case of an accident, according to the draft law. The commission also wants nuclear-power plants to have emergency response centers and develop, together with national regulators, a public-information strategy.

Before it's here, it's on the Bloomberg Terminal.