Kashiwazaki Kariwa visit concludes

15 August 2007

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) team in Japan to see the earthquake-hit Kashiwazaki Kariwa plant has ended its site visit, concluding that "damage appears less than expected."

The team, led by the IAEA's director of Nuclear Installation Safety, Philippe Jamet, included one other IAEA staffer and four seismic nuclear safety experts. They spent three days at the plant on an independent assessment of its physical condition.

The team's full report is to be delivered to IAEA director general Mohamed ElBaradei within days, but a statement from the agency confirmed that the plant had "shut down safely" and that "damage appears less than expected."

Detailed checks by plant owners Tokyo Electric Power Company (Tepco) and Japan's Nuclear Industrial Safety Agency (NISA) are ongoing, and some significant work such as detailed examination of the reactor vessels, cores and fuel elements remains.

ElBaradei said that he welcomed the cooperation and transparency his team had received from Japanese authorities and that lessons - both positive and negative - would be passed on to other nuclear power plants worldwide. An IAEA statement revealed that Japan would present a report on the earthquake to a meeting of senior nuclear regulators at the IAEA General Conference in September.

All seven boiling water reactors at the plant remained in safe states when an earthquake of magnitude 6.8 struck at 10.13am on 16 July. However, water containing trace amounts of radioactivity was shaken from cooling pools of all the units and some of this drained away to be discharged to sea. In addition, many barrels of solid radioactive waste were knocked over and an external electrical transformer failed and caught fire.

Nobody was seriously hurt at the plant, although ten people in the surrounding area were killed, over 1000 injured, and 35,000 forced from their homes.

Further information

Tokyo Electric Power Company (Tepco)

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

WNN: IAEA team arrives in Japan
WNN: Tepco lists earthquake effects
WNN: Tepco battered by media storm
WNN: Kashiwazaki Kariwa nuclear units shut down on earthquake