UN to dispatch expert fact-finding mission to damaged Japanese nuclear plant

Damage in the Tohoku region of Japan after the tsunami of 11 March. Photo: United States Navy/Dylan McCord

17 May 2011 – The United Nations atomic agency announced today that it will send a team of international experts on a fact-finding mission to Japan to assess nuclear safety in the wake of the damage caused by March’s devastating earthquake and tsunami.

The mission – which will visit Japan from 24 May to 2 June – will comprise nearly 20 experts from the International Atomic Energy Agency and the wider international community, the IAEA said in a statement issued from its headquarters in Vienna.

Mike Weightman, the chief inspector of nuclear installations in the United Kingdom, will chair the mission, which will report to the IAEA-organized Ministerial Conference on Nuclear Safety that is slated to begin in Vienna on 20 June.

While in Japan the expert team will visit the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station, which sustained major damage in the wake of the disaster on 11 March, and other unspecified locations.

The experts are tasked with making a preliminary assessment of safety issues linked to the accident at Fukushima Daiichi, and identifying areas that need further exploration or assessment based on the IAEA’s safety standards.

The IAEA said the experts will also share their expertise with their Japanese counterparts and hear of the lessons learned as a result of the accident.

Earlier this month a senior IAEA official said the situation at Fukushima Daiichi, which has been spewing radioactive contamination into the environment, “remains very serious.”


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