IAEA team arrives in Japan

06 August 2007

A team assembled by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has arrived in Japan to examine the earthquake-hit Kashiwazaki Kariwa nuclear power plant.

The six-member team, headed by IAEA's director of Nuclear Installation Safety Philippe Jamet, consists of one other IAEA staff member and four seismic nuclear safety experts.

The group will spend four days conducting an independent assessment of the plant's current condition, following 16 July's earthquake of magnitude 6.8. It will then discuss its findings with Japan's Nuclear Industrial and Safety Agency (NISA) and plant owners Tokyo Electric Power Company before compiling a report for IAEA director general Mohamed ElBaradei.

The examination will focus on seismic safety and 'conduct observations on radioactive material release and safety operation management by means of spot observation and discussions with staff,' according to NISA. Jamet told reporters: "Our aim is to draw lessons from the earthquake and share with the international community."

When the earthquake struck, three reactors at Kashiwazaki Kariwa were shut down for scheduled maintenance. The four in operation at the time shut down safely, but some small amounts of mildly radioactive material escaped the plant, an external electrical transformer caught fire and many barrels of solid radioactive waste were knocked over.

No vital plant components or structures were damaged, despite the extraordinary strength of the tremors, but there was widespread minor damage to site grounds. It has since been reported that the site may lie above a previously unknown fault line.

Further information

International Atomic Energy Agency
Nuclear Industrial and Safety Agency

WNA's Nuclear Power in Japan information paper
WNA's Nuclear Power Plants and Earthquakes information paper

WNA's Earthquakes and Nuclear Safety microsite

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