IAEA urges Japan nuclear regulation to improve skills, law

IAEA team conducts inspection in wrecked Fukushima plant urging Japan to improve skills and amend nuclear safety law

Photo by: AP
Photo by: AP

Philippe Jamet, left, commissioner of France Nuclear Safety Authority (ASN) and Integrated Regulatory Review Service (IRRS) mission team leader and Japan's Nuclear Regulation Authority Chairman Shunichi Tanaka attend a press conference in Tokyo

A team of experts from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said on Friday that Japan’s nuclear safety regulation has developed since the 2011 Fukushima disaster, though it still needs to improve inspections and staff competency.

IAEA conducted its first review at the Japan nuclear plant since it was established in 2012. Japan adopted stricter safety requirements for plant operators, but the law concerning site inspections remained unchanged.

The 17-member team, finished a 12-day inspection in the wrecked Fukushima plant, said that Japan’s monitoring body demonstrated independence and transparency in contrast to the former attitude before the disaster.

A French regulatory commissioner and mission leader Philippe Jamet, said Japan’s stiff inspection rules do not permit inspectors to move freely at the nuclear plant or respond quickly to a problem.

"At any time and for any plant, inspectors should be allowed to go where they want. And there is a comprehensive framework for Japan but it doesn't give any, it doesn't give enough freedom for the inspectors to react immediately and to provide results," he told reporters.  

He also said inspectors need to distance themselves from the facilities.

The team is expected to submit the final report in about three months.

In March 2011, the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant was hit by a massive tsunami, igniting triple meltdowns.

The inspection team urged Japan’s government to amend its nuclear safety law to make on-site safety checks more effective and flexible. 

TRTWorld and agencies