Nuclear stress tests
The Fukushima accident proved again that nuclear energy production always bears unexpected risks. It showed that serious accidents can also occur in the most developed industrial countries.
The European Council decided therefore to review the safety of European nuclear power plants on the basis of risk and safety assessments ('stress tests').
Although this review was limited in scope and time, the tests affirmed that all European reactors are deficient in some basic security criteria and that all need technical upgrades.
What was the Greens' position?
The Greens believe that if nuclear 'stress tests' are well designed they can help to identify the risks of nuclear energy production.
Serious stress tests of nuclear facilities should include all relevant risk factors, such as the ageing of technical facilities and the threat of terrorist attacks or likelihood of simple human errors.
We also believe that stress tests have no use unless they have an adequate follow-up. In our view, any reactors that pose high risks should be shut down immediately.
Did other MEPs accept the Greens' position?
The Greens convinced a majority in the Parliament to support several minor demands. The majority of deputies admitted that the stress tests would only assess the consequences of some external events, like tsunamis and earthquakes.
They agreed that this would not guarantee the safety of all nuclear power plants, since not all risk scenarios would be simulated.
We were satisfied that the Parliament demanded that the producers of nuclear power would have to pay for renovations and retrofitting of their reactors. But since the Parliament's demands would not be legally binding, the details would be agreed upon by the Commission and the national regulators, anyway.
We also convinced the majority to announce demands concerning the future Nuclear Safety Directive. It should cover preventive measures for the areas surrounding nuclear power plants. The plants should be equipped according to the latest technological standards.
Which points did the Greens lose?
The EPP and large parts of the ALDE voted against our most relevant amendments and turned the stress tests into a smokescreen for the nuclear industry.
They supported the tests only under the condition that they would not have any serious consequences: no reactor would have to be shut down as a result to the stress tests.
Anyway, the tests were a merely fictional exercice. None of the inspectors ever placed their feet into a nuclear power plant in the context of the tests.
The simulations excluded the most relevant risk factors. They did not cover risks from material fatigue, plane crashes, acts of terrorism or war, and human failure.
S&D votes were decisive in making sure that producers of nuclear energy would only be responsible for the strict minimum costs in case of a nuclear meltdown.
Procedure:Resolutions on topical subjects
Lead MEP:Rebecca Harms (GREENS/EFA)
Green MEP responsible:Rebecca Harms
Staff contact:Michel Raquet (Email)
Outcome of the vote
Below you find the results of the final vote in plenary. How did the political groups vote? What about national delegations? And what was the position of your MEP?