France to propose common EU nuclear safety standards

21st March 2011, Comments 0 comments

France's energy minister said Monday he would set down proposals for common security standards at European nuclear reactors.

"I will this morning propose a certain number of avenues to follow to raise the general safety level and adopt if possible common norms," Eric Besson said on arriving for emergency European Union talks on nuclear safety following the post-quake radiation leakage in Japan.

France has 58 reactors out of 143 across the EU, according to European Commission figures.

"We are at the forefront in Europe, in the world, of nuclear-generated electricity, and we intend to remain so," Besson said, adding that France was also "at the forefront in safety matters" with "a nuclear safety authority that is extremely demanding, and whose (political) independence is not in doubt."

France will conduct its own "general review of all our reactors, all our plants, in the light of what happened in Japan," he stressed.

EU ministers are to discuss Monday the detailed design of "stress tests" that the European Union last week decided for all reactors and plants -- but on a voluntary basis.

Germany's Rainer Bruederle said they should be "obligatory," while Lithuania's Andronius Azubalis said the EU should also push for close neighbours such as Russia to do likewise.

Former Soviet satellite Lithuania is concerned that plants just "kilometres" (miles) from the EU's borders are in "violation" of international standards, and wanted ministers also to put pressure on near neighbours.

Non-nuclear Austria has frequently spotlighted former Soviet plants in ex-Soviet Czech Republic and ex-Yugoslav Slovenia.

© 2011 AFP

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