Japan to request IAEA inspection of quake-damaged nuclear plant

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Barrels of radioactive waste that tipped over during the quake.

Japanese officials have requested that inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspect the damage that occurred at the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa Nuclear Power Plant during a strong 6.8 magnitude earthquake on July 16. The quake caused a leak in a pipe, which sent radioactive water into the Sea of Japan and the quake tipped over as many as 400 barrels of nuclear waste.

At least five government officials have written a letter to the Japanese Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe, requesting that the IAEA inspect the damage because local residents are experiencing "great unease" about the radiation leak that occurred after the quake hit.

"Furthermore, images of the accident have been broadcast everywhere around the world and are creating misunderstandings. It is making this country's citizens uneasy, too, and may lead to harmful rumors about the prefecture's tourism and agriculture industries," said the letter.

Mohamed ElBaradei, the head of the IAEA has offered to put together a special team of inspectors and experts to go to the country if Japanese officials request their assistance.

"The Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency under the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry has told the IAEA that it will accept the inspection of the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear plant of Tokyo Electric Power Co.," said unnamed Japanese officials according to Reuters though inspectors are not immediately requested.