Tue, Apr 16, 2013 - Page 6 News List

IAEA begins review at Fukushima plant


The UN’s nuclear watchdog agency yesterday began reviewing the decommissioning process at Japan’s crippled nuclear plant, where new problems are triggering growing safety concerns about a cleanup expected to take decades.

The experts will assess and analyze melted reactors, radiation levels and waste management at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant to make its decommissioning process safer and more stable, team leader Juan Carlos Lentijo told reporters.

The cleanup is “a very difficult challenge,” he said, and “it is very important to conduct the decommissioning process in a very safe way.”

The mission by the 12-member team is the International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA) first review of the decommissioning.

Japan’s nuclear watchdog said there have been at least eight accidents or problems at the plant since the middle of last month, ranging from extensive power outages to leaks of contaminated water.

The problems are raising concerns about whether the plant, crippled by the March 2011 tsunami, can stay intact through a decommissioning process that could take 40 years. The problems have also prompted officials to compile risk-reduction measures and revise decommissioning plans.

Among the most pressing issue is the leakage of tonnes of highly radioactive water from three of seven underground storage pools into the soil.

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