The Fukushima disaster following the tsunami that hit Japan in 2011 was an eye-opening event that caused many to wonder just how safe nuclear power is. Thanks to a new study commissioned as a result of the disaster, we have an answer – and it doesn’t look good. The results of the study show that of 145 reactors examined in Europe, the vast majority of them fail in one or more safety preparedness aspects.
According to the European Nuclear Safety Regulators Group, of the 145 reactors studied, 121 lacked adequate instruments to detect earthquake activity and 81 lacked equipment to deal with severe accidents like earthquakes or floods. Additionally, 24 reactors were missing emergency backup control rooms and 32 lacked venting to prevent pressure from building up if the primary cooling fails in the event of a disaster.
The good news is that the group reported that none of the reactors needed to be shut down because of these problems, but each country was asked to resolve the issues pointed out by the report by the end of 2014. Changes include adding backup power supplies, taking steps to improve seismic safety, and adding additional venting.
The study involved a peer-reviewed process that tested for both natural and man-made events, including terrorist attacks, human failure and natural disasters. Specifically, reviewers were looking to uncover weakness in reactor safety beyond the originally designed safety measures. Once the group’s recommendations are implemented, the repeat of a disaster like Fukushima will be (hopefully) much less likely.
Via New Scientist