Europe must think beyond national borders on nuclear, say sector leaders

National decisions on nuclear power must be taken with an international view in mind, according to senior players in the industry.

At a conference in Brussels yesterday, speakers covering a variety of aspects of the industry stressed that in the post-Fukushima world, a multinational approach needed to be taken.

This is because – if for no other reason – a nuclear accident in any European country was certain to have an impact on its closest neighbours and further afield as well.

In Europe, “an accident anywhere is an accident everywhere”, said Laurent Stricker, chairman of the World Association of Nuclear Operators.

Phillip Lowe, director-general of the European Commission’s energy directorate, said any accident will have implications for neighbouring countries, and that was why “plant safety should be looked at not just nationally but in a wider context”.

The subject of nuclear waste disposal is one that is stuck in a national rather than international mindset, according to Ewoud Verhoef, deputy director of the Central Organisation for Radioactive Waste in The Netherlands.

He said that while all other stages of a nuclear plant’s life cycle – from mining to enrichment, and electricity production to reprocessing – operated on “a truly international” level with companies from around the world involved, waste management remained “strictly national, and it need not be”.

“Multi-national solutions can be complimentary to national,” he said, adding that given the extremely long lifespans of some nuclear waste, it made no sense to address the issue within borders which could change within the next century.

He told delegates at the Marketforce European Nuclear Forum in Brussels that European countries should work together to highlight potential areas for “a multi-national repository”.

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