News / Europe

Europe Reviews Nuclear Power

The earthquake and tsunami damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant located in the town of Okuma in the Futaba District of Fukushima Prefecture, Japan,  March 14, 2011
The earthquake and tsunami damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant located in the town of Okuma in the Futaba District of Fukushima Prefecture, Japan, March 14, 2011

Japan's nuclear accident has sparked fears about the safety and future of nuclear energy in Europe. 

Already a number of European governments have reacted to Japan’s nuclear explosion, which has leaked dangerous levels of radiation after a massive earthquake and resulting tsunami devastated the northeastern part of the country Friday.  

Switzerland has frozen plans to build new nuclear plants.

Germany says it will close seven of its aging nuclear power plants and will delay a decision on whether to extend the lifeline of others.

A former government had decided to close all 17 of German’s nuclear plants, but the current government, headed by Angela Merkel, has moved to extend their use.

Other European countries say they will be carrying out safety checks. France said Tuesday it will be checking the safety of all 58 of its nuclear power reactors.

Protesters against nuclear energy demonstrate in front of the chancellery in Berlin, Germany, March 14, 2011
Protesters against nuclear energy demonstrate in front of the chancellery in Berlin, Germany, March 14, 2011
Jan Haverkamp, the European Union nuclear expert for the environmental campaign group, Greenpeace, says it is good news if European nations wake up to the risks of nuclear power.

"That is a good thing. What is a less good thing is that some countries who are developing nuclear power are not looking at their program in spite of what is happening in Japan," said Jan Haverkamp. "And then we talk specifically about Slovakia, about Poland, also the Italian government does not want to seem to wake up out of its slumber."

Italy’s environment minister, Stefania Prestigiacomo, said Monday that government plans to reintroduce nuclear energy are unchanged despite the situation in Japan.

Italians are set to vote in the coming months on whether they want to block the government’s policy of bringing nuclear plants back. In a referendum almost 25 years ago, Italians decided to get rid of the facilities.

Havercamp says a 1986 explosion at the nuclear power plant in Chernobyl, in the then-Soviet republic of Ukraine, made many people wary of nuclear power. It was the world's worst nuclear disaster and, according to one United Nations study, may eventually cause the deaths of up to 9,000 people.

But Haverkamp says in recent years, many European countries have been embracing nuclear power.

"There is a lot of talk about wanting to revive nuclear power, and I think that what is happening right now under our eyes at this moment is a stark reminder that we might have to be a bit more critical about that development," he said.

In Japan, officials say radiation levels have reached dangerous levels and have forced 140,000 people to seal themselves indoors.  

Richard Ivens is the director of institutional affairs at FORATOM, the Brussels-based trade association for the nuclear energy industry in Europe.

He says the nuclear emergency in Japan should not raise fears about a similar situation in Europe.

"Normally we don't have the same sort of seismic events in Europe as have occurred in Japan, that's point number one," said Ivens. "Also the chances of having a tsunami of that sort of magnitude are much lower in Europe than they are in Japan clearly because in Japan, they are right next to a major fault line."

He says nuclear power is the way forward for clean energy in Europe.

You May Like

Lebanese Media Unite to Support Palestinians in Gaza

Joint newscast billed as Arab world’s first unified news bulletin in support of Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip More

Photogallery Australian PM Alleges ‘Coverup’ at MH17 Crash Site

Meanwhile, Russia's ambassador to Malaysia denies plane's black boxes were opened before they were handed over to Malaysian officials More

Despite Advances in AIDS Treatment, Stigma Lingers

Leading immunologist tells VOA that stigma is often what prevents those infected with disease from seeking treatment More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Agei
X
Elizabeth Lee
July 20, 2014 2:36 AM
Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.
Video

Video Chicago’s Argonne Lab Developing Battery of the Future

In 2012, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science awarded a $120 million grant to a new technology center focused on battery development - headquartered at Argonne National Laboratory in suburban Chicago, Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there scientists are making the next technological breakthroughs in energy storage.
Video

Video In NW Pakistan, Army Offensive Causes Massive Number of Displaced

Pakistan’s army offensive in North Waziristan has resulted in the large-scale displacement of the local population. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from northwest Pakistan where authorities say around 80 percent of the estimated 1 million internally displaced persons [IDPs] have settled in Bannu district, while much of the remaining 20 percent are scattered in nearby cities.
Video

Video Kurdish Peshmerga Force Secures Kirkuk, Its Oil

The Kurdistan regional government has sent its Peshmerga troops into the adjacent province of Kirkuk to drive out insurgents, and to secure the area's rich oil fields. By doing this, the regional government has added a fourth province to the three it officially controls. The oil also provides revenue that could make an independent Kurdistan economically strong. VOA’s Jeffrey Young went out with the Peshmerga and filed this report.
Video

Video Malaysia Reeling: Second Air Disaster in Four Months

Malaysia is reeling from the second air disaster in four months involving the country’s flag carrier. Flight 340 vanished in March and despite an extensive search, no debris has been found. And on Thursday, Flight 17, likely hit by a surface-to-air missile, came apart over eastern Ukraine. The two incidents together have left more than 500 people dead. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Kuala Lumpur.
Video

Video Diplomatic Crisis Grows Over MH17 Plane Crash

The Malaysia Airlines crash in eastern Ukraine is drawing reaction from leaders around the world. With suspicions growing that a surface-to-air missile shot down the aircraft, there are increasing tensions in the international community over who is to blame. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Undocumented Immigrants Face Perilous Journey to US, No Guarantees

Every day, hundreds of undocumented immigrants from Central America attempt the arduous journey through Mexico and turn themselves over to U.S. border patrol -- with the hope that they will not be turned away. But the dangers they face along the way are many, and as Ramon Taylor reports from the Rio Grande Valley in Texas, their fate rests on more than just the reception they get at the US border.
Video

Video Scientists Create Blackest Material Ever

Of all the black things in the universe only the infamous "black holes" are so black that not even a tiny amount of light can bounce back. But scientists have managed to create material almost as black, and it has enormous potential use. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Fog Collector Transforming Maasai Water Harvesting in Kenya

The Maasai people of Kenya are known for their cattle-herding, nomadic lifestyle. But it's an existence that depends on access to adequate water for their herds and flocks. Lenny Ruvaga reports for VOA, on a "fog collector."

AppleAndroid