Japan "underestimated" tsunami hazard to nuclear

Japan underestimated the tsunami hazard to its nuclear power plants, according to the first international safety report on the Japanese nuclear power station accident released today. A fact-finding team from […]

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By Vicky Ellis

Japan underestimated the tsunami hazard to its nuclear power plants, according to the first international safety report on the Japanese nuclear power station accident released today.

A fact-finding team from the International Atomic Energy Association visited three nuclear sites including the Fukushima Daiichi plant in Japan to make their assessment.

The plant was damaged following the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami on March 11th earlier this year.

In a draft report delivered to Japanese authorities today, the team concluded that Japan’s long-term response was “impressive and well organised” but contained a warning to operators and designers of future plants to always consider natural hazards and regularly update their response plans.

Team leader Mike Weightman, the UK’s Chief Nuclear Inspector said: “Our entire team was humbled by the enormous damage inflicted by the tsunami on Japan. We are also profoundly impressed by the dedication of Japanese workers working to resolve this unprecedented nuclear accident.

“It is of fundamental importance for all with responsibility for nuclear safety across the world to seek to learn from this unique event.”

The team of experts was drawn from 12 countries including Argentina, China, France, India, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States.

A final report on lessons to be learned will be delivered to the Ministerial Conference on Nuclear Safety at IAEA headquarters in Vienna later this month.