International Atomic Energy Agency Briefing on Fukushima Nuclear Emergency, 18 March 2011 (14:00 UTC)

Vienna, Austria–(ENEWSPF)–18 March 2011 -14:00 UTC.  Graham Andrew, Special Adviser to the IAEA Director General on Scientific and Technical Affairs, briefed both Member States and the media on the current status of nuclear safety in Japan. His opening remarks, which he delivered at 14:00 UTC at the IAEA headquarters in Vienna, are provided below:

1. Current Situation

As I reported yesterday, the situation at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plants remains very serious, but there has been no significant worsening since our last briefing.

The situation at the reactors at Units 1, 2 and 3 appears to remain fairly stable.

Seawater was injected yesterday into Unit 2 and white smoke was again observed through the blown-out panels.

At Unit 3, which was the subject of helicopter water drops yesterday, water cannons have been spraying water on the spent fuel pond and seawater was injected into the reactor pressure vessel.

An important safety concern remains the spent fuel pools at Units 3 and 4. Information is lacking on water levels and temperatures at the spent fuel pools.

Efforts are being made to restore electrical power to the whole site. Another positive development is that diesel generators are providing power for cooling for both Units 5 and 6.

No problems have been reported at the common spent fuel pool. The spent fuel in the pool is fully covered by water.

The Japanese authorities today issued new ratings for the incidents on the IAEA International Nuclear and Radiological Event Scale – INES.

They assess core damage at the Fukushima Daiichi 1, 2 and 3 reactor Units, caused by the loss of all cooling function, as 5 on the INES scale.

The situation at Unit 4, where cooling and water supply in the spent fuel pool have been lost, is rated 3 by the Japanese authorities.

At the Fukushima Daini nuclear power plant, the loss of cooling functions in Units 1, 2 and 4 has also been rated as 3. All reactor Units at Fukushima Daini are now in a cold shut down condition.

2. Radiation Monitoring

As mentioned yesterday, regular dose rate information is now being received from 47 Japanese cities.

Dose rates in Tokyo and other cities remain far from levels which would require action – in other words they are not dangerous to human health.

First measurements in Tokyo by the Agency’s newly arrived radiation monitoring team today showed no indication of Iodine-131 or Caesium-137. A second sampling will be carried out overnight.

3. Agency Activities

As you know, the Director General is in Tokyo, where he met the Prime Minister and other senior government ministers as well as the Vice-President of Tepco. The Director General stressed the importance of providing faster and more detailed information about the situation at the nuclear power plants, including to the international community. He also emphasized the importance of Japan working closely with the international community to resolve the crisis.

There was agreement between the Agency and our Japanese counterparts that the Agency mission would focus on radiation measurements and the identification of Japanese needs for a future environmental monitoring programme.

The Agency has started radiation measurements in Tokyo, as I mentioned, and we will move towards the Fukushima region as soon as possible. The Japanese counterparts confirmed their willingness to further strengthen their cooperation with the Agency and make available measurements made by TEPCO and the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology.

The Director General plans to brief the Agency’s Board of Governors on his return from Japan.

Following our request yesterday, the CTBTO informed us today that data from its radionuclide monitoring stations will be made available to the Agency with immediate effect. On behalf of the Director General, I express my thanks to CTBTO Executive Secretary, Mr. Tibor Toth.

The International Civil Aviation Organization, in consultation with the Agency and a number of other international organizations, said today that international flight and maritime operations can continue normally into and out of Japan’s major airports and sea ports and there is no medical basis for imposing additional measures to protect passengers. This will be kept under review.

Agency staff continue to work around the clock. We intend to hold another Technical Briefing and press conference at the same time tomorrow, Saturday.

View Video on YouTube

Summary of Reactor Unit Status, by Graham Andrew

Technical Briefing of Nuclear Safety Aspects of Situation in Japan, by James Lyons
Technical Briefing on Radiological Situation in Japan, by Renate Czarwinksi