Fri, March 25, 2011
World > Europe > Powerful quake rocks Japan

EU leaders debate nuclear safety in Europe in wake of Japanese accident

2011-03-25 13:24:47 GMT2011-03-25 21:24:47(Beijing Time)  Xinhua English

BRUSSELS, March 25 (Xinhua) -- European Union leaders meeting for a two-day summit on Friday were set to discuss the safety of nuclear power plants located in the EU.

The talks, coming in the wake of Japan's ongoing nuclear crisis, would focus on a stress test to be conducted on the EU's 143 nuclear power plants to see whether they could managae suchh risks as earthquakes, tsunamis and terrorist attacks.

EU member states have agreed on the need for a pan-European stress test on the plants but an extraordinary meeting of energy ministers on Monday was deadlocked on when and how to do the testing.

"The highest standards should be implemented and continuously improved in the EU and promoted internationally," EU President Herman Van Rompuy posted Friday on Twitter.

The crisis that developed in Japan after a magnitude-9.0 earthquake and ensuing tsunami struck March 11 has also revived talks of abandoning nuclear power in Europe.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Thursday that nuclear energy policy across the EU had to be fundamentally changed, a call likely to be resisted by France, the world's second largest producer of nuclear electricity.

Berlin made a sudden change in its nuclear energy policy after Japan's accident. Merkel has already ordered the temporary closure of seven of Germany's oldest reactors.

Nuclear energy policy is in the hands of EU member states, which are widely divided on whether to develop or give up nuclear power to meet the EU's growing energy needs.

EU leaders started their summit Thursday, with the first-day discussion focused on the ongoing sovereign debt crisis and the military intervention in Libya.

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