Japan's quake-hit nuclear plant raises need for new standards

Other News Materials 27 February 2008 01:22 (UTC +04:00)

( dpa ) - A review of the July 2007 earthquake at Japan's Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear power plant underlined the lack of international regulations and experience for dealing with such an extraordinary event, the UN nuclear watchdog said on Tuesday.

Reporting on the results of a fact-finding mission to Japan in late January, the International Atomic Energy Agency said the incident was likely to influence seismic safety standards in power plants around the world.

"The results of the evaluation and review process presently in progress will induce changes that will be implemented in Japanese regulatory guidance and standards. It is also likely that, eventually, there will be an influence on the approaches to the seismic safety of nuclear power plants worldwide," the report said.

There was no significant damage to the parts of the plant important for its nuclear safety, the IAEA confirmed, despite the fact that the 6.6 quake on the Richter scale "very significantly exceeded" the seismic activity levels the plant had been designed for.

The IAEA's mission, its second to Kashiwazaki-Kariwa after the quake on July 16 2007, focused on questions regarding seismic design basis and evaluation of seismic hazards, the plant's behaviour and fire safety.

Questions regarding the possibility or timetable of bringing the plant back online were not discussed at the IAEA mission, officials said.

The quake had been an extraordinary event, the IAEA stressed, and the data collected by Japanese and international experts could help create new safety standards worldwide.

The Japanese plant operator, the Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), faced massive public criticism due to a bungled public information policy after the quake.