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Thursday, 12 May 2011 - StrasbourgOJ edition

Question no 32 by Gay Mitchell (H-000172/11 )  
 Subject: Large-scale nuclear catastrophe

The Commission has been very successful in coordinating EU assistance in Japan following the devastating earthquake and tsunami. However, how is the Commission prepared for a potential large-scale nuclear catastrophe in Japan?


(EN) The honourable Member has raised the issue of the nuclear accident in the Fukushima daïchi nuclear power plant, following the devastating earthquake and tsunami which struck Japan on 11 March 2011. The European Commission and the European External Action Service are following the situation very closely. We have kept in close contact with the Japanese authorities and been kept informed about the ongoing efforts to stabilise the situation, contain the spread of radioactive materials and monitor the related environmental conditions.

Discussions will continue at the next EU-Japan Summit to take place on 28 May 2011 in Brussels, as well as at upcoming international meetings (the International Atomic Energy Agency, G8/G20, etc).

As regards the question of how the EU could respond in the hypothesis of a nuclear accident in a third country where the scale of the accident overwhelmed the capacities of the country concerned to deal with the accident, the EU has different tools at its disposal which could be mobilised in such a case, e.g.:

1) The EU Civil Protection Mechanism. The precise types of assistance mobilised would depend on the type of nuclear accident/incident, on the request made by the affected country, and the capacities available from Member States. Generally, this assistance can cover inter alia the phases of initial assessments, sampling and predictions; search and rescue activities; mass decontamination facilities and may include technical equipment, e.g. for the secure and safe containment of waste, as well as nuclear expertise, through the relevant pool of civil protection experts.

2) The nuclear safety co-operation Instrument (NSCI, Council regulation ( Euratom- n° 300/2007 of 19 February 2007). NSCI provides financial aid to support third countries in improving the level of nuclear safety and radiation protection, ensuring safe transport, treatment and disposal of radioactive waste. This programme is implemented by EuropeAid with the collaboration of the European External Action Service, the European Commission’s Directorates in charge of energy and transport as well as with the technical support of the Commission’s Joint Research Centre.

3) The Instrument for stability (Regulation (EC) No 1717/2006 of the Parliament and of the Council of 12 November 2006(1) ). This instrument can also be used to finance short-term and long-term initiatives such as measures to respond immediately to natural or man-made disasters, such as internally displaced persons monitoring and placement, nuclear safety and security, clean up measures, critical infrastructure protection, energy distribution, emergency response and support to first responders.


(1)Regulation (EC) No 1717/2006 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 15 November 2006 establishing an Instrument for Stability, OJ L 327, 24.11.2006

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