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

Koreas Mark 61st Anniversary of War Armistice

Muted observances on both sides of heavily-armed Demilitarized Zone that separates two decades-long enemies More

Judge Declares Washington DC Ban on Public Handguns Unconstitutional

Ruling overturns capital city's prohibition on carrying guns in pubic More

Pricey Hepatitis C Drug Draws Criticism

Activists are using the International AIDS Conference to criticize drug companies for charging high prices for life-saving therapies 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.
Students in Business for Themselvesi
X
Mike O'Sullivan
July 26, 2014 11:04 AM
They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

AppleAndroid