UN atomic agency calls for Fukushima improvements
Tokyo: The International Atomic Energy Agency on Monday called on the operator of Japan's crippled Fukushima nuclear plant to improve "essential systems" as it struggles to deal with leaks and power cuts.
"TEPCO (Tokyo Electric Power) should continue its efforts to improve the reliability of essential systems, to assess the structural integrity of site facilities and to enhance protection against external hazards," the UN nuclear watchdog said in a statement.
The comments came after an IAEA mission met with officials from the Japanese government and TEPCO last week in Tokyo, ahead of their on-site inspection at the plant.
The statement was released just hours after TEPCO said it had temporarily switched off a reactor cooling system following the discovery of a pair of dead rats near to critical equipment.
The measure was taken to allow workers to safely remove the bodies and to check whether the animals had done any damage to delicate electrical systems, a TEPCO spokesman said.
The IAEA inspection by nuclear experts and international specialists came at the request of the Japanese government and is the third of its kind since the Fukushima plant was knocked out by a tsunami in March 2011.
The stricken site has suffered an increasingly long line of mishaps that have rattled public confidence.