News / Asia

IAEA Chief: Use of Nuclear Power Growing Despite Japanese Accident

The Fukushima Daiichi nuclear complex in Okumamachi, northern Japan is shown in this September 18, 2010 aerial photo.
The Fukushima Daiichi nuclear complex in Okumamachi, northern Japan is shown in this September 18, 2010 aerial photo.
Margaret Besheer

The head of the U.N.'s nuclear monitoring agency said Thursday that global use of nuclear power will continue to grow, despite the shock waves sent through the industry after a massive earthquake and tsunami caused an accident at a Japanese nuclear power plant earlier this year.  At the United Nations, there was a special high-level meeting on the safety and security of the world's nuclear power plants.

International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director-General Yukio Amano told the nuclear summit that in the six months since Japan's Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant was crippled, his agency has been working closely with Japan to contain the damage.

"The agency's assessment now is that the reactors are essentially stable and the expectation is that the 'cold shutdown' of all the reactors will be achieved as planned," said Amano.

Speaking via a video message from IAEA headquarters in Vienna, Amano said worldwide public confidence in the safety of nuclear power was deeply shaken by the radiation leak after a March 11 earthquake triggered a massive tsunami.  Some 80,000 people had to be evacuated from the area near the crippled Japanese plant.

But the IAEA chief said the accident does not mean the end of nuclear power.

"In fact, the latest IAEA projections show that global use of nuclear power will continue to grow quite significantly in the coming decades, although at a slower pace than in our previous projections," added Amano.  "The growth will reflect unchanged factors such as increasing demand for energy as well as concerns about climate change, dwindling reserves of oil and gas, and uncertainty of supply of fossil fuels."

Amano said the IAEA Board of Governors has approved an action plan on nuclear safety that includes measures for states to review the preparedness of their nuclear power plants to withstand natural disasters.  International experts will also be assembled to assess the safety of a country's nuclear reactors, its emergency preparedness and response capabilities, and the effectiveness of its nuclear regulatory system.

Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda told the meeting that it is clear that the government was underprepared for a tsunami. 

"It is clear that electrical power supplies for emergency use and pumps should not have been situated in locations that could be submerged by tsunamis," said Noda.  "Insufficient were preparations for a severe accident that would result in damage to the reactor core."

But Noda added the most recent estimates indicate that the amount of radioactive material being released from the Fukushima Daiichi plant is one-four millionth of the level during the early stage of the accident.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton also addressed the nuclear meeting.  She said the Obama administration recognizes that nuclear power is a vital contributor to the world's energy needs and that it is not an option that can be taken off the table.

"But it is an option that carries special risks and dangers," Clinton said.  "Therefore, we must do everything possible to ensure its safe and responsible use.  We must remain vigilant against outside threats and internal weaknesses to prevent accidents from occurring.  We must make continuous improvements to regulations and strengthen implementation of existing conventions so we hold ourselves, and others, to the highest standards."

Clinton said exhaustive international response plans must be enacted so that if an accident occurs, the damage is contained as much as, and as soon as, possible.

You May Like

Turbulent Transition Imperils Tunisia’s Arab Spring Gains

Critics say new anti-terrorism laws worsen Tunisia's situation while others put faith in country’s vibrant civil organizations, women’s movement More

Burundi’s Political Crisis May Become Humanitarian One

United Nations aid agencies issue warning as deadly violence sends tens of thousands fleeing More

Yemenis Adjust to Life Under Houthi Rule

Locals want warring parties to strike deal to stop bloodletting before deciding how country is governed More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Texas Town Residents Told to 'Just Leave' Ahead of Flood Threati
X
Greg Flakus
May 29, 2015 11:24 PM
Water from heavy rain in eastern and central Texas is now swelling rivers that flow into the Gulf of Mexico, threatening towns along their banks. VOA’s Greg Flakus visited the town of Wharton, southwest of Houston, where the Colorado River is close to cresting.
Video

Video Texas Town Residents Told to 'Just Leave' Ahead of Flood Threat

Water from heavy rain in eastern and central Texas is now swelling rivers that flow into the Gulf of Mexico, threatening towns along their banks. VOA’s Greg Flakus visited the town of Wharton, southwest of Houston, where the Colorado River is close to cresting.
Video

Video New York's One World Trade Center Observatory Opens to Public

From New Jersey to Long Island, from Northern suburbs to the Atlantic Ocean, with all of New York City in-between.  That view became available to the public Friday as the One World Trade Center Observatory opened in New York -- atop the replacement for the buildings destroyed in the September 11, 2001, attacks.  VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports.
Video

Video Seoul Sponsors Korean Unification Fair

With inter-Korean relations deteriorating over the North’s nuclear program, past military provocations and human rights abuses, many Koreans still hold out hope for eventual peaceful re-unification. VOA’s Brian Padden visited a “unification fair” held this week in Seoul, where border communities promoted the benefits of increased cooperation.
Video

Video Purple Door Coffeeshop: Changing Lives One Cup at a Time

For a quarter of his life, Kevin Persons lived on the street. Today, he is working behind the counter of an espresso bar, serving coffee and working to transition off the streets and into a home. Paul Vargas reports for VOA.
Video

Video Modular Robot Getting Closer to Reality

A robot being developed at Carnegie Mellon University has evolved into a multi-legged modular mechanical snake, able to move over rugged surfaces and explore the surroundings. Scientists say such machines could someday help in search and rescue operations. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Shanghai Hosts Big Consumer Electronics Show

Electronic gadgets are a huge success in China, judging by the first Asian Consumer Electronics Show, held this week in Shanghai. Over the course of two days, more than 20,000 visitors watched, tested and played with useful and some less-useful electronic devices exhibited by about 200 manufacturers. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Forced to Return Home, Afghan Refugees Face Increased Hardship

Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Britain Makes Controversial Move to Crack Down on Extremism

Britain is moving to tighten controls on extremist rhetoric, even when it does not incite violence or hatred -- a move that some are concerned might unduly restrict basic freedoms. It is an issue many countries are grappling with as extremist groups gain power in the Middle East, fueled in part by donations and fighters from the West. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Al-Shabab Recruitment Drive Still on In Kenya

The al-Shabab militants that have long battled for control of Somalia also have recruited thousands of young people in Kenya, leaving many families disconsolate. Mohammed Yusuf recently visited the Kenyan town of Isiolo, and met with relatives of those recruited, as well as a many who have helped with the recruiting.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.

VOA Blogs