Wed, Jul 27, 2011 - Page 5 News List

Atomic power still growing, IAEA says

AFP, TOKYO

The head of the UN atomic watchdog said yesterday that nuclear power would keep growing in the world despite the crisis at Japan’s Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant, which he visited the previous day.

Yukiya Amano, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), was speaking after meeting Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan, who has advocated a phase-out of nuclear power in the quake-prone nation.

“It is certain that the number of nuclear reactors will increase, even if not as quickly as before,” Amano, a Japanese former senior diplomat, said after meeting the prime minister in Tokyo. “Some countries, including Germany, have reviewed their nuclear energy policy, but many other countries believe they need nuclear reactors to tackle problems such as global warming.”

“Therefore, securing safety is more important than anything,” Amano said.

Amano, who visited the crippled Fukushima Dai-ichi plant on Monday, said he told Kan that the international nuclear body would help the disaster-hit country bring the atomic power plant under control.

The Fukushima plant was battered by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami, suffered meltdowns and explosions in the days that followed and continues to release radioactive material into the environment.

“I told the prime minister that the IAEA can help Japan because we have knowledge and experience on decontamination and the management of melted or spent nuclear fuel,” he said.

Japan and plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co are trying to bring the plant’s reactors to stable “cold shutdown” by January.

Kan has also announced “stress tests,” modeled on a similar program in the EU, for all nuclear reactors in Japan. The majority of the nation’s 54 reactors are currently offline for safety checks.

“I think it’s very good that countries check the safety of nuclear generation after the accident at the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant,” Amano said. “It would be good if the IAEA could review such safety inspections internationally.”

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