The head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has called for a high-level conference to discuss what lessons can be learned from the accident at the quake- and tsunami-hit Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Japan.
Speaking yesterday at a briefing on the nuclear accident, IAEA director general Yukiya Amano said, "It is vitally important that we learn the right lessons from what happened on 11 March, and afterwards, in order to strengthen nuclear safety throughout the world." He noted, "The Fukushima crisis has confronted the agency and the international community with a major challenge."
Amano has proposed that a high-level IAEA conference to discuss the accident should take place at the agency's headquarters in Vienna before the summer. He said that "many countries joined my call for robust follow-up action," since a meeting of the IAEA board of governors on 21 March.
"It is vitally important
that we learn the right
lessons from what
happened on 11 March,
and afterwards, in order
to strengthen nuclear
safety throughout the
IAEA Director General
The conference, Amano said, should cover an initial assessment of the Fukushima accident and discuss its impact, consequences and lessons to be learned. In addition, the meeting should cover the launch of a process to strengthen nuclear safety, as well as strengthening the response to nuclear accidents and emergencies.
Speaking of the proposed IAEA meeting, John Ritch, director general of the World Nuclear Association (WNA) said his organisation "applauds the Amano initiative and declares the global nuclear industry's strong interest in participating in a comprehensive collective effort to derive - and apply in nuclear power operations everywhere - the important lessons from Fukushima."
However, he added, "We need more than a conversation among government representatives. To be fully effective, this exercise should encompass the full range of vendors who design reactors and the many professional operators who remain dedicated to safe nuclear power generation around the world."
Amano told the briefing that the situation at Fukushima "remains very serious" and that the "priority now is to overcome the crisis." He said, "The crisis is not yet over, but we need to start thinking about the future." Amano added, "Once the situation has been stabilised, the Agency would like to send an international expert mission to conduct an assessment of the accident. This should include an element of peer review."
"For now, radioactivity in the environment, foodstuffs and water - including the sea - is a matter of concern in the vicinity of the Fukushima plant and beyond. Current levels indicate a need for further comprehensive monitoring." However, "On the positive side, electrical power has been restored at Units 1, 2 and 3 and fresh water is now available on the site."
He noted that, "From the beginning we have been working closely with the Japanese government and with the safety agency NISA. My visit to Tokyo, and the presence of IAEA staff on the ground, have improved both the flow of information and the level of mutual understanding of a variety of technical issues." Amano added, "This has been an interactive process: as well as receiving information, we have been asking questions, providing advice and obtaining clarifications."
Researched and written
by World Nuclear News