16 Mar 2011

Stress tests sought on Europe's nuclear plants

6:30 pm on 16 March 2011

The European Union wants stress tests conducted on the continent's nuclear power plants in light of the Japanese crisis.

Europe's energy commissioner has described Japan's nuclear disaster as an "apocalypse".

"There is talk of an apocalypse and I think the word is particularly well-chosen," Guenther Oettinger said in remarks to the European Parliament on Japan's situtaion.

"Practically everything is out of control. I cannot exclude the worst in the hours and days to come."

The ABC reports that an emergency meeting of European Commission ministers and industry leaders in Brussels wants stress tests done on Europe's 153 reactors to check if they can resist earthquakes, tsunamis and terrorist attacks.

With no EU rules to make the tests binding, however, they will be done on a voluntary basis.

Japan's emergency has prompted Germany and Switzerland to halt nuclear programmes, but Poland is pressing ahead with building its first plants.