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Japan Nuclear Crisis Sparks Worries in Europe

Protesters against nuclear energy demonstrate in front of the chancellery in Berlin, Germany, March 14, 2011

The nuclear crisis in Japan has sparked concerns on the safety of nuclear power plants across Europe, particularly in Germany.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Monday announced a temporary suspension of a plan to extend the life of a number of German nuclear power plants.

Her statement came after thousands of people took to the streets over the weekend to protest her government's intentions to keep the plants open 12 years longer than originally planned.

Merkel ordered immediate safety checks of all the nuclear stations.

The European Union said Monday it was convening an emergency meeting in Brussels on Tuesday to discuss safety measures in place for the reactors on the continent.

According to the European Nuclear Society, as of January 2011 there were 195 nuclear plants in operation and under construction in Europe.

In 1986, the Soviet-built nuclear reactor in Chernobyl, Ukraine, exploded, sending waves of radioactive material into the air, affecting hundreds of thousands of people.

Turkey on Monday said it had no intention of stopping its nuclear power projects.