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11.03.2013_No64 / News in Brief

Safety Has Advanced Since Fukushima-Daiichi, Says IAEA Chief



Unplanned Events & Incidents

11 Mar (NucNet): Efforts to improve global nuclear safety have advanced since Japan’s Fukushima-Daiichi disaster struck exactly two years ago, the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency has said, vowing to help make nuclear power as “safe as humanly possible”.

Yukiya Amano, who last week was re-appointed to a second four-year term at the Vienna-based United Nations agency, said virtually all IAEA member states with operating nuclear plants had completed so-called stress tests and had expanded safety measures.

“We must maintain the momentum of constant improvement,” he said in a statement to mark today’s second anniversary of the nuclear accident.

Mr Amano said the IAEA has expanded the expert peer reviews which it offers to member states, covering areas such as the operational safety of a country’s nuclear power plants, the effectiveness of its regulatory system, and its emergency preparedness and response arrangements.

He said: “We have thoroughly reviewed the IAEA safety standards and ways to improve them.”

He said the agency’s efforts are guided by the IAEA Action Plan on Nuclear Safety*, which was unanimously endorsed by its 159 member states in September 2011.

Mr Amano said the worst elements of the accident are behind us and “we are now in the post-accident phase”.

On 11 March 2011 at 14:46 local time, a magnitude-9 earthquake occurred in northeast Japan. All eleven operating nuclear power reactors at the Fukushima-Daiichi, Fukushima-Daini, Onagawa and Tokai nuclear plants shut down automatically. Three units – Fukushima-Daiichi-4, -5 and -6 – were already shut down for maintenance.

At Fukushima-Daiichi, the earthquake and consequent tsunami resulted in a series of equipment failures, fuel meltdowns, and releases of radioactive materials.

Meanwhile, Japan’s prime minister Shinzo Abe said in a policy speech that nuclear power plants whose safety has been confirmed will be restarted.

Following the Fukushima-Daiichi accident, the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency ordered stress tests on all Japan’s nuclear reactors resulting in all 50 units being offline. Two units, Ohi-3 and Ohi-4, have since restarted.

* The IAEA Action Plan on Nuclear Safety is online: www.iaea.org/newscenter/focus/actionplan

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