European Union leaders endorsed plans to carry out “stress tests” for safety on Europe’s nuclear power plants following the devastating earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan on 11 March.
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Nicolas Sarkozy, France’s president, said at the 24-25 March summit that all the EU’s nuclear plants would be scrutinised to ease public concerns following the accident at the Fukushima plant.
The reactors at the plant have been under threat of meltdown following the earthquake and tsunami, which knocked out cooling systems crucial to keeping the reactors from overheating. Radioactive water was found outside the reactor building for the first time on Monday (28 March).
Sarkozy said it was “a matter of responsibility” that EU member states carry out thorough checks to prevent similar events in Europe. The EU leaders also appealed to countries outside the EU to undertake safety tests.
José Manuel Barroso, the European Commission president, said the Commission would work with the European nuclear safety regulatory group to draw up “clear, common, transparent criteria” to be used in the assessments.
The tests will be carried out by independent national authorities on a total of 143 power plants. The results and any necessary follow-up measures will be reported to the Commission and the European regulatory authority. They will also be made public.
The Commission was asked to review the implementation of existing legislation on nuclear safety and to propose any amendments it considers necessary.
The EU leaders pledged to increase humanitarian aid to Japan to help the survivors of the earthquake and the tsunami, which has so far claimed the lives of 11,000 people. More than 17,000 people are missing.
David Cameron, the UK’s prime minister, said the EU should also consider opening free-trade talks with Japan in order to help the country rebuild its economy. The EU leaders said such an accord should be considered if Japan was willing to tackle the issue of non-tariff trade barriers and restrictions on public procurement.