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Another safety exemption for aviation?

6th May, 2011

Europe’s nuclear power plants would not have to prove their ability to withstand the force of an aircraft crash under stress tests being  drafted by regulators.

An article from the FT on 3rd May says:

“The possibility of an aeroplane collision was the most glaring omission among scenarios laid out in a proposal for the stress tests, the centrepiece of the European Union’s plan to ensure the safety of its 143 nuclear plants after Japan’s Fukushima crisis.

The draft document was prepared by the western European nuclear regulators’ association, a group of national safety inspectors, and will form the basis for a proposal. It explicitly mentions the need to ensure that plants are capable of withstanding earthquakes, floods and other extreme natural events.

The draft cites the possibility of a loss of electrical power at nuclear facilities – a situation that doomed Fukushima in March after a huge earthquake and tsunami. But, in spite of pleas from the Austrian government, environmental groups and some members of the European Parliament, the authors steered clear of aircraft crashes because of the insistence of some member states that the tests be limited to natural disasters and not man-made ones, such as terrorist attacks.”

AEF does not take view on nuclear power or nuclear safety per se. But we are strongly opposed to exempting aircraft crashes from consideration of safety at nuclear plants. It is absurd to worry about how ‘natural’ disasters could affect nuclear plants, but not a man-made disaster such as an air crash. This is yet another example of exempting aircraft from normal environmental and safety controls.