France puts nuclear test reports on line

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France's Nuclear Safety Authority (ASN) on Friday published the reports of so-called stress tests compiled by operators of 80 French nuclear sites in the light of the Fukushima disaster.

The agency had asked operators of 80 priority installations to carry out "additional safety evaluations" to take into account risk factors such as earthquakes, flooding, loss of electrical power and reactor cooling, occurring either separately or together.

France is the world's most nuclear-dependent country.

Its 58 reactors, most of them built after the oil shocks of the 1970s, account for 75 percent of its electricity supply.

The test reports, placed online at, will be analysed by the ASN, the agency said. Its assessment will be published near the end of the year.

On Thursday, French Energy Minister Eric Besson said nuclear operators had put forward several proposals for strengthening safety, including installation of a backup cooling system for reactors.

A massive tsunami, triggered by a 9.0-magnitude earthquake, flooded the Fukushima Daiichi plant in Japan on March 11, knocking out the main power and backup generators used to circulate reactor coolant.

Three of the six reactors went into meltdown, and a series of blasts within the reactor buildings themselves spewed radiation into the environment, forcing tens of thousands to evacuate in a 20-kilometre (12-mile) radius.

© 2011 AFP

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