Safety checks 'must be improved to prevent another Fukushima'
The world's 440 operating atomic reactors must be given safety checks within the next 18 months in the wake of the Fukushima nuclear meltdown, the head of the UN's nuclear safety agency said yesterday.
Checks by national authorities should then be followed by international inspections, said Yukiya Amano, director-general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), to prevent any repeat of Japan's reactor catastrophe in March, which has prompted a major loss of confidence in nuclear power around the world. Germany and Italy have both signalled that they will pull out of atomic power production.
Opening a ministerial meeting in Vienna on strengthening safety standards after Fukushima, Mr Amano, also a senior Japanese diplomat, said that after Fukushima, "business as usual is not an option". He said: "Thorough and transparent national risk assessments should be made of all nuclear power plants in the world. They should focus on safety margins against extreme natural hazards, such as earthquakes, tsunamis and floods. This could be done within 12 to 18 months."
Nuclear safety would remain a national responsibility, he said, and governments would still have the main task of testing, if only in theory, whether reactor systems could withstand various stresses, such as the earthquake and tsunami, which overwhelmed the Fukushima reactors' cooling systems and led to significant radiation leaks into the atmosphere.
But Mr Amano made clear that he wanted the UN agency to play a greater role, and suggested its experts should be allowed to carry out random safety reviews of atomic power plants.
"Public confidence in the safety of nuclear power has been badly shaken," he said in a speech to ministers and regulators from the UN body's 151 member states. "However, nuclear power will remain important for many countries, so it is imperative that the most stringent safety measures are implemented everywhere." At the moment there are no mandatory, international nuclear safety regulations, only IAEA recommendations, which national regulators are in charge of enforcing. While some IAEA member countries at the meeting want any new safety regime to be mandatory, most prefer regulations to remain voluntary. But Mr Amano pointed out that if the IAEA cannot enforce safety standards, those rules will be only as good as the way they are enforced by IAEA nations.
"Even the best safety standards are useless unless they are actually implemented," he said.
As it was "not a realistic proposition" for the IAEA to review all the world's 440 working nuclear reactors in just a few years, Mr Amano said he was proposing a review system "based on random selection".
elephant appealThe first 23 lots in our charity auction have now gone. But there are 22 more still up for grabs
From rainforests and reefs to beaches and boat trips
The Silicon Valley awards which treat scientists like rockstars
comedy'Fresh Meat' star sees off stiff competition from Alan Carr, David Mitchell, Graham Norton, Lee Mack and Sarah Millican to win top prize
Mystery of Epping Forest 'big cat' is solved
North Korea: First Kim Jong-un orders execution of uncle - now it emerges that victim's wife was involved in decision to execute him
Humans are not smarter than animals - we just don't understand them
Woman who miscarried in private prison 'made to clean up after herself,' court told
Fox News presenter tells viewers it is a 'fact' that both Jesus and Santa Claus are white
- 1 French café starts charging extra to rude customers
- 2 Australia incest case: Deformed children found in remote farming community after generations of inbreeding
- 3 Physicists discover 'clearest evidence yet' that the Universe is a hologram
- 4 Woman who miscarried in private prison 'made to clean up after herself,' court told
- 5 Fox News presenter tells viewers it is a 'fact' that both Jesus and Santa Claus are white
- < Previous
- Next >
£65000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Support Analyst (Back Office, CRM, Sharepo...
£30000 - £45000 per annum + Benefits: Harrington Starr: QA Tester Automation R...
£24000 - £24250 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is curr...
£800 - £875 per day: Harrington Starr: Programme Manager, (OTC Trading, CMMI, ...