Japan underestimated the risk of a devastating tsunami at several of its nuclear power plants and it should give more freedom to its regulators from now on, a report of the UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) concluded Wednesday.
The agency said in a report on the Fukushima plant disaster that operators and regulators in the nuclear field should commit to a regular updating schedule on their natural disaster risk assessment policies.
An international team of IAEA experts inspected the Fukushima plant to find out details on the accident and how the plant’s operator, TEPCO, reacted. The inspection came amid suspicions that TEPCO was dishonest when releasing information about the radiation leaks that occurred after three of the six reactors had melted down.
Japan’s politicians dismissed two years ago warning reports from geologists, which said that the geographical position of the Fukushima plant makes it extremely vulnerable to a giant tsunami wave, Bloomberg learned in March. Engineers also failed to learn their lessons after a similar incident in 2004, when a tsunami off Indonesia destroyed a reactor about 2,000 km away, in India.
Mike Weightman, the leader of the IAEA fact-finding team in Japan, said that nuclear power can exist even amid natural disasters, as long as proper safety measures are taken. [BusinessWeek]