Today (4 October), the European Commission (Commission) presented its Communication to the Council and the European Parliament regarding the so-called stress tests for nuclear power plants in the European Union (EU).
German nuclear power plants – including those plants which are shut down – exhibit huge safety margins in all the scenarios assumed in the EU stress test. These safety margins far exceed the minimum requirements specified in laws, licences, codes and standards and already include large margins against events such as floods and earthquakes in their design and in their actual condition. Moreover, according to the Commission, German nuclear power plants feature many examples of safety-related 'good practice'.
Following confirmation by the National Reactor Safety Commission in May 2011 and by the European Nuclear Safety Regulators Group (ENSREG) in April 2012 that the safety standards practised by German plants lead the international field, the DAtF considers that the overall very good technical condition of the German plants has been documented again by the Commission’s Communication.
The recommendations for German nuclear power plants listed in the Commission's Communication must be considered against the background of the existing and already implemented high safety requirements. So, for example, the criterion of the International Atomic Energy Organisation (IAEO) for seismic safety is aimed at nuclear facilities worldwide whose sites present no data or very little data with regard to earthquake intensity. For German nuclear power plant sites, however, there are detailed seismic risk analyses on the basis of which compliance with the German regulations for seismic design is determined. These regulations are significantly more stringent than the benchmark used by the Commission. German nuclear power plants must be designed to withstand an earthquake such as might occur once in 100,000 years at the relevant site. German nuclear power plants are situated in areas with low seismic activity and low seismic intensity and, apart from a few plants, have seismic instrumentation systems. Seismic instrumentation systems are being retrofitted in the remaining plants.
The Commission's recommendations are not aimed at shortcomings or even deficits in safety. The same also applies to the recommendations for the implementation of guidelines for the management of severe accidents (Severe Accident Management Guidelines, SAMG). The extensive emergency measures which already exist in German nuclear power plants were identified in the EU stress test as 'good practice'. Nevertheless, supplementary to this, operators had begun to introduce SAMGs – even before the events in Fukushima.