UN atomic watchdog approves Japan`s reactor tests

Last Updated: Tuesday, January 31, 2012 - 13:16

Tokyo: The UN`s nuclear watchdog on Tuesday gave
its seal of approval to Japan`s reactor safety checks, but
said Tokyo had to step up efforts to regain public confidence
in the wake of the Fukushima disaster.

A delegation from the International Atomic Energy Agency
(IAEA) is in the country at the government`s invitation as
officials look for ways to convince a deeply sceptical
population that idled nuclear plants are safe to restart.

With just a handful of Japan`s 54 reactors still
operational, officials are nervously eyeing possible
electricity shortfalls unless reactors are brought back online
-- something that can only be done if local communities
consent.

The government`s Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency
(NISA) called on the IAEA to assess the stringency of the
so-called stress tests to which all reactors are subjected
before being given the green light to resume operations.

"The conclusion of the team is that NISA`s instructions
and review process for the comprehensive safety assessments
are generally consistent with IAEA safety standards," the
delegation said in a statement.

But the mission urged Tokyo to engage with people living
in the shadow of nuclear plants as it tries to convince them
the technology is safe.

"NISA should conduct meetings with interested parties near
the nuclear facilities," it said.

The stress tests were introduced as a way of determining
how reactors would cope with the impact of large-scale natural
disasters after meltdowns and explosions at Fukushima Daiichi
caused by last March`s earthquake and tsunami.

Radiation was scattered over a large area and made its way
into the oceans, air and food chain in the weeks and months
after the disaster, reversing the mood among Japan`s once
nuclear-friendly public.

The energy-hungry nation has virtually no natural
resources of its own and had relied on atomic power for around
a third of its electricity before March 11.

PTI



First Published: Tuesday, January 31, 2012 - 13:16

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