France has 'no reason' to shut down nuclear plants: official
The head of the French nuclear safety authority said Wednesday there was "no reason" to shut down French nuclear plants, one day after local Swiss governments called for the closure of a plant near the border.
"There is no reason for us to shut down any nuclear plants in France," Andre-Claude Lacoste said at a meeting of European nuclear safety agencies in Helsinki.
On Tuesday, two Swiss regional governments called on France to shut down its Fessenheim plant, located just 35 kilometres (20 miles) from the Swiss border city of Basel, amid safety concerns.
"I have a feeling that nuclear plants in France are safe. If we felt they were unsafe, we would shut them down," Lacoste said.
His statement also comes two weeks after German Chancellor Angela Merkel announced a temporary shutdown of Germany's seven oldest reactors pending a safety review.
Lacoste noted, however, that he would begin drawing up plans for a national audit of France's nuclear power plants "as soon as possible".
He was participating in a meeting of WENRA, a voluntary network of European countries with nuclear power plants, who meet twice a year to agree on common safety policies.
Japan's current nuclear crisis, where workers struggle to cool an overheating core at the quake-hit Fukushima nuclear plant, prompted WENRA to launch a stress-test initiative to determine whether European reactors could withstand similar conditions.
© 2011 AFP