The nuclear safety framework in the European Union after Fukushima

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Series Details No.73, December 2014
Publication Date 15/12/2014
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nullOn 11 March 2011, a devastating earthquake struck Japan and caused a major nuclear accident at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant. The disaster confirmed that nuclear reactors must be protected even against accidents that have been assessed as highly unlikely. It also revealed a well-known catalogue of problems: faulty design, insufficient back-up systems, human error, inadequate contingency plans, and poor communications. The catastrophe triggered the rapid launch of a major re-examination of nuclear reactor security in Europe.

This Egmont Paper aims to examine the reactions of the EU regarding nuclear safety since 2011. Firstly, a general description of the nuclear sector in Europe is provided. Secondly, this paper will present the Euratom legal framework regarding nuclear safety. Thirdly, the general symbiosis between Euratom and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) will be explained. Fourthly, the paper analyses the initiatives taken by the EU in the wake of the Fukushima catastrophe. These initiatives are centred around the famous ‘stress tests’. Fifthly, the most important legal change brought about by this event was the revision of Directive 2009/71.

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ESO: Background information: The EU takes the lead on nuclear safety with the amendment to the Nuclear Safety Directive

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