Japan asks IAEA for expert help: UN watchdog chief

Last Updated: Monday, March 14, 2011 - 23:40

Vienna: Japan has officially asked the UN
atomic watchdog to send a team of experts to help in the
current nuclear crisis, International Atomic Energy Agency
(IAEA) chief Yukiya Amano said on Monday.

"Today, the government of Japan asked the agency to
provide expert missions. We are in discussions with Japan on
the details," Amano told IAEA member states in a closed-door
technical briefing at the watchdog`s Vienna headquarters.

As soon as the devastating earthquake hit Japan on
Friday, damaging the Fukushima nuclear plant located 250
kilometres northeast of Tokyo, the IAEA made a formal offer of
assistance to the government.

Japanese-born Amano described the 8.9-magnitude
earthquake and the devastating tsunami it triggered as "a
tragedy of cataclysmic proportions. This has been one of the
greatest natural disasters of modern times, the full extent of
which is still becoming clear."

The events of the last few days were "truly
unprecedented," Amano continued.

"The modern infrastructure of a highly industrialized
country has been dealt a devastating blow by the immense
destructive power of nature. I send my deepest condolences to
the people and government of Japan."

The giant nuclear plant of Fukushima was damaged by
the quake, with two explosions hitting separate reactor units
there.

But "the reactor vessels have held and radioactive
release is limited," Amano insisted.

Earlier, the IAEA had issued a statement saying the
Japanese authorities had reported that Fukushima Daiichi Unit
2 had "experienced decreasing coolant levels in the reactor
core."

Officials had begun to inject sea water into the
reactor to maintain cooling of the reactor core, it said.

And sea water injections into Units 1 and 3 had been
interrupted yesterday "due to a low level in a sea water
supply reservoir, but sea water injections have now been
restored at both units."

Amano said that, as from Tuesday, the IAEA would hold
a daily technical briefing for member states and the media
taking place at 3:00 pm (1400 GMT).

PTI



First Published: Monday, March 14, 2011 - 23:40

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