"Stress test will take into account a higher risk of earthquakes"

The stress tests for Belgium's nuclear power plants will have to take into account a slightly higher risk for earthquakes than was generally assumed. That's according to the first results of a study by Belgium's Royal Observatory.

The report was ordered by Electrabel which operates Belgium's nuclear plants. After the nuclear disaster in Fukushima, all 143 nuclear reactors in Europe have to undergo a stress test which should provide detailed information on how well they can withstand natural disasters among other things. In Belgium, the test applies to the sites in Doel (East Flanders) and Tihange (Wallonia).

According to Chris Vanneste of the Royal Observatory the criteria will be more stringent than in the past. "One should bear in mind that the nuclear plants were designed in the seventies and that we acquired more knowledge about earthquakes since then."