News / Asia

Japan to Impose Changes in Nuclear Regulatory System

Workers wearing protective suits check the status of the water level indicator at the fuel area inside the crippled Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant Number 1 reactor in Fukushima Prefecture May 10, 2011 in this handout photo released by TEPCO, May 12
Workers wearing protective suits check the status of the water level indicator at the fuel area inside the crippled Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant Number 1 reactor in Fukushima Prefecture May 10, 2011 in this handout photo released by TEPCO, May 12

The Japanese government says it will create an independent agency to regulate the country's nuclear industry in the wake of the Fukushima nuclear plant disaster.  

In a report it will submit to the International Atomic Energy Agency, the government says the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency will be separated from the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, which promotes nuclear power.

The report says NISA's lack of independence hampered its ability to properly oversee the nuclear industry, and slowed its the official response to the disaster.

The Fukushima nuclear plant has been leaking radiation since the March 11 earthquake and tsunami knocked out its cooling systems, leading to meltdown in the cores of three reactors.

The report acknowledges the likelihood that nuclear fuel in the reactor units has melted through the pressure vessels and fallen onto the floor of the primary containment vessel.  

The nuclear safety agency on Monday dramatically raised its estimate of the amount of radiation released by Fukushima in the first week of the disaster.  The new estimate is more than twice as high as previous estimates

Some information for this report was provided by AP.

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