Nuclear safety reviewed after Japanese accident

IAEA fact-finding team in Japan

Confidence in the safety of nuclear power has been badly shaken by the accident that occurred on 11 March at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power in Japan.

The plant which was damaged by a massive earthquake and tsunami generated fears of releases of radioactive material.

Now, more than one thousand participants including ministers from around the world have gathered at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in Vienna, Austria to discuss nuclear safety. Derrick Mbatha reports.

Narrator: The Director-General of the IEA Yukiya Amano says that despite the damage caused by the Fukushima Daiichi plant accident, nuclear power will remain important for many countries

Amano: "So it is imperative that the most stringent safety measures are implemented everywhere. This is also true for countries opting to phase out their nuclear power programmes, whose plants will continue to operate for many years. We need to respond urgently to the public anxiety caused by the accident, while maintaining a firm long-term commitment to continuously improving nuclear safety.

Narrator: One way identified by Mr. Amano to bolster safety at nuclear power plants is to strengthen the IAEA's own Safety Standards and ensure that they are universally applied.

Amano: " Other issues that need to be addressed include effective preparedness for prolonged power blackouts, the assured availability of water for cooling, special protection for plants with multiple reactors, and the cooling of spent fuel under severe accident conditions."

Narrator:  The head of IAEA is proposing that countries with nuclear power should agree to a systematic, periodic peer review by the agency.

Amano: "The IAEA review of every one of the world’s 440 operating nuclear reactors in just a few years is not a realistic proposition. I therefore propose a system based on random selection.

Narrator: Mr. Amano says that all states with nuclear power programmes should establish national accident response teams. According to Mr. Amano, there is also a need to improve the way information is shared when an accident has occurred.

Amano: "At present, our role in the case of an accident is largely limited to distributing information validated by the country concerned to all other Member States. I suggest that our information-sharing function should be expanded to include providing analysis and possible scenarios on how a crisis might develop and the associated radiological impact."

Narrator: Yukia Amano said that nuclear safety will remain the responsibility of States but the IAEA will play the lead role in shaping a safer nuclear future throughout the world.

Duration: 2’41″

Filed under Today's Features.
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