Amid fresh leaks, Fukushima plant gets ‘robustness’ certificate

Contamination levels in the recent leak were 70 times greater than the levels recorded in the already-contaminated area

By Kundan Pandey
Published: Tuesday 03 March 2015

imageDays after Japan witnessed a fresh radioactive leak in Fukushima’s Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has issued a certificate of “robustness” to the plant. This meant that the nuclear security regime and the implementation of physical protection measures for nuclear facilities and nuclear material in Japan was robust, sustainable, and had been significantly enhanced in recent years.

At a time when Japan is still recovering from the affects of the nuclear disaster that was triggered by a tsunami in 2011, how authentic would such an accreditation be? On February 22, Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) officials had said that sensors placed in Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant in Japan’s Fukushima detected a fresh leak of radioactive water into the sea. The contamination levels in the leak are 70 times greater than the levels recorded in the already-contaminated area close to the power plant. 

Only a confidence-building measure? 

The IAEA’s team began its two-week visit to the plant on February 16 and conducted an International Physical Protection Advisory Service mission (IPPAS) at the request of Japan's Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA). The mission reviewed Japan’s nuclear security regime as well as the security setup at its nuclear facilities.

The team reviewed physical protection systems at three sites including Fast Critical Assembly (FCA) and the Plutonium Fuel Production facility (PFPF), operated by Japan Atomic Energy Agency (JAEA) and the Hamaoka Nuclear Power Station operated by Chubu Electric Power Co. Inc. Amid fresh leaks, is IPPAS visit to Japan and giving certificate of “robustness” a part of confidence building in the nation that has for long been coping with the ill-effects of 2011 leak?  

The team that identified a number of good practices in the nation's nuclear security regime has also provided recommendations and suggestions for the continuous improvement of nuclear security.


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