France

Paris nuclear talks agree post-Fukushima safety standards

Reuters/Gonzalo Fuentes

G20 energy ministers have agreed to improve safety at nuclear power stations in the wake of the disaster at Japan’s Fukushima plant. New measures could include "stress tests" with regular checks to make sure safety standards are met. 

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France’s Ecology Minister Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet, who chaired the meeting in Paris, told delegates that countries could not afford to think the way they did before the Fukushima disaster.

“What we have learned from this disaster and what we must remember, is that one accident at a nuclear power plant is enough to create grave and irreversible consequences for man and the environment,” she said.

In addition to stress tests, the meeting agreed that it was necessary to reinforce the global role and mission of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) particularly its system for reviewing national safety frameworks.

Other options for improving safety included the possibility of emergency intervention and ways of pooling help.

The meeting also called for the harmonisation of procedures in the event of a nuclear crisis, such as a way of determining the ceiling above which iodine tablets should be distributed to citizens at risk of radioactivity.

Kosciusko-Morizet will present the proposals to nuclear regulatory watchdogs on Wednesday. They will then be put to a meeting in Vienna of the IAEA from 20-24 June. That is seen as a stepping stone towards new international guidelines and procedures for nuclear safety.

Representatives at Tuesday’s meeting also included those from the G8 economies as well as Brazil and India and from the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development’s Nuclear Energy Agency.

Earlier on Tuesday, Japan’s Nuclear and Safety Agency, Nisa, revised the number of terabecquerels of radiation which escaped into the atmosphere in the first week of the Fukushima disaster to 770,000 – more than double its earlier estimate.
 

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