One year after Japan’s tsunami, agency assures on nuclear safety

AmanoManpower hinders Nigeria’s power project

YESTERDAY marked one year after a massive earthquake and tsunami left more than 20,000 people dead or missing in eastern Japan. The tsunami also hit Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station, disabling cooling systems and leading to fuel meltdowns in three of the six units.

Undeterred by the call in some quarters for the world to put the break on nuclear power projects, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said yesterday that nuclear power was far safer than it was a year ago as the nuclear industry, regulators and governments act on the lessons of Fukushima.

On its part, Nigeria is battling to step up capacity building for relevant officials to be involved in its nuclear project. The country has said repeatedly that it is not stepping down efforts to generate electricity, using nuclear electricity to supplement current efforts from gas fired power plants and hydro sources, among others.

In a statement as part of the first anniversary of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident, IAEA said a culture of constant vigilance and improvement was vital to ensure that the benefits of nuclear power could be harnessed as safely as humanly possible.

The agency stressed that safety must never be compromised. IAEA’s Yukiya Amano said:  “Now we have to keep up the momentum. Complacency can kill. Fukushima Daiichi was a very serious accident, but we know what went wrong and we have a clear course of action to tackle those causes – not only in Japan, but anywhere in the world.”

Taking stock of the nation’s nuclear programme, Minister of State of Power, Mr. Darius Ishaku, spoke of the need for Nigeria to put  its manpower right before venturing into nuclear power.

A statement from the Ministry of Power, noted that Ishaku told the Ukraine’s Ambassador and some visitors from that country who visited him in Abuja at the weekend that Nigeria was reluctant to invest in nuclear power station because the country does not have sufficient manpower capability to handle it and that Nigeria also needs to seek advice from IAEA after the Japanese nuclear disaster last year.

The IAEA while reviewing the impact of the Japan’s accident noted: “The accident was a jolt to the nuclear industry, regulators and governments. It was triggered by a massive force of nature, but it was existing weaknesses of design regarding defence against natural hazards, regulatory oversight, accident management and emergency response that allowed it to unfold as it did.

“Human failings such as these are not unique to Japan. We humans learn from our mistakes. Countries around the world are searching out the weak links in their own systems, and taking action to strengthen them.”

The IAEA said it has developed a new methodology for assessing the safety vulnerabilities of nuclear power plants, which has already been used on an IAEA expert mission to review the approach taken by Japan in its own plant safety assessment.

The IAEA has also sent a number of other expert technical missions to support Japan, and has advised the country as it establishes a new, more independent regulatory system.

The statement added: “The IAEA’s Safety Standards, which provide the basis for a high level of safety, have been systematically reviewed and proposals have been made to reinforce them, with particular emphasis on a strong regulatory framework and safe sitting, design and operation of plants. The IAEA has stepped up its peer review services, incorporating lessons of Fukushima to help member states assess and reinforce nuclear safety, and has taken steps to improve coordination with operators.”


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