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EPSU welcomes the stress test for the nuclear power stations following the nuclear accident in Japan

(March 16, 2011) The European Federation of Public Service Unions (EPSU) welcomes the fact that the European Commission and Member States have decided to apply a “stress test” for the nuclear power stations in Europe as well as to develop the criteria for it. This follows the dramatic and tragic events in Japan with the nuclear power station of Fukushima-Daiichi and its six units. Those catastrophes have been caused as a consequence of the earthquake and tsunami which resulted in the devastation of several towns and villages and has caused a terrible human suffering. The nuclear aftermath resulted in several European governments postponing decisions to build new power stations or to decide to prolong the operation of certain power stations.

This is a welcome initiative. Governments are well advised to check up on the security of the nuclear power sector. Such checks should consider all risks such as backup of cooling and containment systems. These tests should include if excessive work with subcontracted staff poses a bigger risk then having permanent employed staff. Also the staffing of the nuclear safety and other related agencies is a concern as the austerity programmes of governments are hitting many services and agencies cutting back on staff and freezing pay and conditions. Workers and public health are at stake here and we want the highest possible standards” stated EPSU’s Deputy General Secretary Jan Willem Goudriaan.

Transparency and openness are of ultimate importance. The stress tests need to be carried out by independent experts. And even the ownership and internal market might be an issue. Is the operation of a nuclear power plant under commercial conditions and facing though competition a risk factor or not, or would it be better to ensure public control and operating in the regulated market ?" He added.

EPSU represents many millions of workers including in the nuclear power sector. They follow with great concern the events that are unfolding in Japan. Public service workers are in the forefront of the rescue operations often working in dangerous circumstances. Also the workers in the Japanese nuclear power stations are trying to do their best under very difficult and dangerous circumstances. EPSU has sent a solidarity message to the trade unions in Japan.

For more information: Pablo Sanchez, psanchez epsu.org, 00 32 4 74 62 66 33