Countries seek nuclear stress tests after Japan crisis

Reuters News
Posted: Jun 07, 2011 8:48 AM
Countries seek nuclear stress tests after Japan crisis

PARIS (Reuters) - Government ministers and officials from nearly 30 nuclear energy producing countries called on Tuesday for safety tests on all reactors, after the disaster at Japan's Fukushima plant sparked concern over standards.

A majority of delegates at talks hosted under France's G20 chairmanship supported stress tests that would determine how well nuclear plants could withstand major disasters, like the earthquake and tsunami that rocked Fukushima in March.

"The Fukushima accident in Japan shook us all and the need arose very quickly to draw lessons, to improve and lift our standards and cooperation on nuclear safety," French Environment Minister Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet told a news conference after chairing the talks.

Group of Eight leaders agreed at a summit in France last month that more stringent nuclear safety rules were needed.

Currently, there are no mandatory, international nuclear safety regulations, only recommendations from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) which national regulators are in charge of enforcing.

In addition to finding a consensus on stress tests of nuclear safety, the ministers and officials also agreed on the need to reinforce the IAEA's role on nuclear safety.

The meeting, co-hosted by the Organization for Economic Co-operations and Development, aimed to hammer out a common ground among major nuclear producing countries ahead of an IAEA ministerial meeting on June 20-24 in Vienna.

(Reporting by Leigh Thomas; editing by James Jukwey)