Head of world's nuclear watchdog visits damaged Japan nuclear plant
The head of the international nuclear watchdog on Monday visited a nuclear plant damaged in March's earthquake and tsunami to see the operations to stabilize the facility after Japan's worst nuclear accident, dpa reported.
Yukiya Amano, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), was briefed by an executive of the operator of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station and visited employees and soldiers working to bring the plant under control, the Kyodo News agency said.
The plant, 250 kilometres north-east of Tokyo, has leaked radioactive substances into the environment since it was crippled in the March 11 disaster.
Amano's visit came soon after the completion of the first phase of the Tokyo Electric Power Co's (TEPCO's) road map to bring the disaster under control.
The government said last week that TEPCO had restored stable cooling to its crippled reactors as scheduled in mid-April.
The next phase would be to achieve an overall stable condition at the six-reactor plant called a "cold shutdown," the government said. TEPCO plans to get the phase completed by January.
Prior to his visit, Amano said the operator's plan to achieve cold shutdown by early 2012 "could be possible."
During his weeklong stay, the former Japanese diplomat was scheduled to hold talks with Prime Minister Naoto Kan and Industry Minister Banri Kaieda.
The trip followed an IAEA conference in June on the safety lessons to be learned from Fukushima, at which Amano was tasked with an action plan on how to improve global safety standards and oversight.