UN report highlights concern about ageing nuclear plants

A year on from Fukushima, a draft report from the UN highlights the danger of an ageing global nuclear fleet, with 80 per cent of nuclear power plants over 20 years old.

Many operators have begun programs, or expressed their intention, to run reactors beyond their planned design lifetimes, said the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) document which has not yet been made public, reports Reuters.

"There are growing expectations that older nuclear reactors should meet enhanced safety objectives, closer to that of recent or future reactor designs," the Vienna-based U.N. agency's annual Nuclear Safety Review said.

"There is a concern about the ability of the ageing nuclear fleet to fulfill these expectations."

IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano told Reuters last week that nuclear power is now safer than it was a year ago. The report said the "operational level of NPP (nuclear power plant) safety around the world remains high".

About 70 percent of the world's 254 research reactors have been in operation for more than 30 years "with many of them exceeding their original design life," it said.

The document was debated by the IAEA's 35 nation governing board last week, almost exactly a year after the world's worst nuclear accident in 25 years.

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