Nuclear watchdog proposes rapid reaction force to prevent French Fukushima

Reuters/Lagazeta / Greenpeace/Handout

France’s nuclear watchdog has ordered 10 billion euros’ worth of changes to be made to the country’s nuclear power stations to avoid a Fukushima-style disaster. It wants a rapid reaction force to be set up by the end of the year.


Parliamentary elections 2012

“A lot of people think that Fukushima is behind us, in fact it’s ahead of us,” declared Jean-Christophe Niel, the boss of the nuclear safety authority, ASN, when presenting nearly 1,000 recommendations aimed at preventing a similar tragedy in France.

Based on an audit carried out in January in the aftermath of the 2011 Japanese disaster, the ASN has ordered work on France’s 32 nuclear reactors that is likely to last several years.

French nuclear power plants map

Its most urgent proposal is to set up a rapid reaction force capable of sending specialised teams and equipment to the scene of an accident anywhere in the country within 24 hours. That should be up and running by the end of this year;

In the longer term, a bunker housing a command post will be built in all France’s nuclear reactors so as to keep the site running even if it is hit by earthquake or flood.

An extra emergency reserve electricity supply will also be established by the end of the year.

Nuclear operators, EDF and Areva, should be observing the new rules by 2018, the ASN says.

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