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Nuclear agency says France should learn from Japan disaster

Latest update : 2011-03-30

The head of the Nuclear Safety Authority said Wednesday that France had yet to assess the role natural disasters played in Japan's unfolding nuclear crisis, adding that the European country could no longer "live on quiet certainties."

AFP - French nuclear security has not yet taken into account the kind of accumulation of natural catastrophes that led to Japan's atomic disaster, the head of the Nuclear Safety Authority (ASN) said Wednesday.

"How do we deal with an accumulation of assaults? This is something that we have not yet taken into account," ASN head Andre-Claude Lacoste said when asked about lessons to be learnt from the unfolding nuclear accident at Fukushima.

"Obviously, we will have to ask ourselves what are the lessons to be learnt from what happened in Japan," Lacoste told journalists after presenting his 2010 report on nuclear security in France to parliament.

A powerful earthquake followed by a giant tsunami earlier this month cut the electricity to Fukushima's nuclear reactors, shutting down the cooling system and leading to the world's worst nuclear crisis since Chernobyl.

"We cannot live on quiet certainties, in fact who can after what's just happened?" he said, adding that the ASN's position remained that "no one can ever say that there will never be a nuclear accident in France."

The French government last week told the ASN to carry out a security audit at France's 58 active atomic reactors. France is proportionally the world's largest user of nuclear power.

The audit will take into account the risks brought to light by the Fukushima disaster, and its first conclusions should be published by the end of the year.

"Seismic, tsunami or flooding hazards... We must go back (to the power stations) given what's happened in Japan," Lacoste said.

"We could envisage setting up areas with emergency diesel supplies at all nuclear plants in France (or that) at plants along the coast, the diesel be stocked at the top of a cliff rather than at the bottom."

"That might appear extremely rustic but that's typically the kind of question that must be asked," he said.

Date created : 2011-03-30


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