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

Turbulent Transition Imperils Tunisia’s Arab Spring Gains

Critics say new anti-terrorism laws worsen Tunisia's situation while others put faith in country’s vibrant civil organizations, women’s movement More

Burundi’s Political Crisis May Become Humanitarian One

United Nations aid agencies issue warning as deadly violence sends tens of thousands fleeing More

Yemenis Adjust to Life Under Houthi Rule

Locals want warring parties to strike deal to stop bloodletting before deciding how country is governed 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.
Texas Town Residents Told to 'Just Leave' Ahead of Flood Threati
X
Greg Flakus
May 29, 2015 11:24 PM
Water from heavy rain in eastern and central Texas is now swelling rivers that flow into the Gulf of Mexico, threatening towns along their banks. VOA’s Greg Flakus visited the town of Wharton, southwest of Houston, where the Colorado River is close to cresting.
Video

Video Texas Town Residents Told to 'Just Leave' Ahead of Flood Threat

Water from heavy rain in eastern and central Texas is now swelling rivers that flow into the Gulf of Mexico, threatening towns along their banks. VOA’s Greg Flakus visited the town of Wharton, southwest of Houston, where the Colorado River is close to cresting.
Video

Video New York's One World Trade Center Observatory Opens to Public

From New Jersey to Long Island, from Northern suburbs to the Atlantic Ocean, with all of New York City in-between.  That view became available to the public Friday as the One World Trade Center Observatory opened in New York -- atop the replacement for the buildings destroyed in the September 11, 2001, attacks.  VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports.
Video

Video Seoul Sponsors Korean Unification Fair

With inter-Korean relations deteriorating over the North’s nuclear program, past military provocations and human rights abuses, many Koreans still hold out hope for eventual peaceful re-unification. VOA’s Brian Padden visited a “unification fair” held this week in Seoul, where border communities promoted the benefits of increased cooperation.
Video

Video Purple Door Coffeeshop: Changing Lives One Cup at a Time

For a quarter of his life, Kevin Persons lived on the street. Today, he is working behind the counter of an espresso bar, serving coffee and working to transition off the streets and into a home. Paul Vargas reports for VOA.
Video

Video Modular Robot Getting Closer to Reality

A robot being developed at Carnegie Mellon University has evolved into a multi-legged modular mechanical snake, able to move over rugged surfaces and explore the surroundings. Scientists say such machines could someday help in search and rescue operations. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Shanghai Hosts Big Consumer Electronics Show

Electronic gadgets are a huge success in China, judging by the first Asian Consumer Electronics Show, held this week in Shanghai. Over the course of two days, more than 20,000 visitors watched, tested and played with useful and some less-useful electronic devices exhibited by about 200 manufacturers. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Forced to Return Home, Afghan Refugees Face Increased Hardship

Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Britain Makes Controversial Move to Crack Down on Extremism

Britain is moving to tighten controls on extremist rhetoric, even when it does not incite violence or hatred -- a move that some are concerned might unduly restrict basic freedoms. It is an issue many countries are grappling with as extremist groups gain power in the Middle East, fueled in part by donations and fighters from the West. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Al-Shabab Recruitment Drive Still on In Kenya

The al-Shabab militants that have long battled for control of Somalia also have recruited thousands of young people in Kenya, leaving many families disconsolate. Mohammed Yusuf recently visited the Kenyan town of Isiolo, and met with relatives of those recruited, as well as a many who have helped with the recruiting.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.

VOA Blogs