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Deadline given to nuclear plants to improve safety

The operators of Switzerland’s nuclear power plants have until the end of March to tell the authorities whether fuel rods can be cooled down in case of an emergency.

However, the director of the Swiss Federal Nuclear Safety Inspectorate (ENSI), Hans Wanner, said on Monday that any plants failing to have the proper emergency systems in place would not be immediately shut down.

Wanner said the power companies would be given a reasonable amount of time to introduce appropriate safety measures.

He did not rule out shutting down a facility but said on Monday that this would only happen if safety could not be guaranteed in normal operating conditions, not in “extreme situations”.

Wanner added that he was surprised by the failure of the cooling system in the Japanese nuclear plant, Fukishima.

ENSI has also given the Swiss nuclear power operators until mid-2011 to set up facilities in earthquake- and flood-safe zones away from the plants where emergency supplies can be stored, such as mobile pumps, backup generators and fuel.

Meanwhile, the Swiss business federation, economiesuisse, said on Monday it supported moves to suspend the approval process for new nuclear power plants to replace the existing ones. and agencies

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