International Atomic Energy Agency Japan Earthquake Update, (13 March 2011 13:35 CET)

Vienna, Autria–(ENEWSPF)–13 March 2011.  Japanese authorities have informed the IAEA’s Incident and Emergency Centre (IEC) that venting of the containment of reactor Unit 3 of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant started at 9:20 AM local Japan time of 13 March through a controlled release of vapour. The operation is intended to lower pressure inside the reactor containment.

Subsequently, following the failure of the high pressure injection system and other attempts of cooling the plant, injection of water first and sea water afterwards started. The authorities have informed the IAEA that accumulation of hydrogen is possible.

Japanese authorities have also informed the IAEA that the first (i.e., lowest) state of emergency at the Onagawa nuclear power plant has been reported by Tohoku Electric Power Company. The authorities have informed the IAEA that the three reactor units at the Onagawa nuclear power plant are under control.

As defined in Article 10 of Japan’s Act on Special Measures Concerning Nuclear Emergency Preparedness, the alert was declared as a consequence of radioactivity readings exceeding allowed levels in the area surrounding the plant. Japanese authorities are investigating the source of radiation. The IAEA has offered its “Good Offices” to Japan to support the nation’s response to the 11 March earthquake and tsunami. One IAEA capability intended to help member states during crises is the Response and Assistance Network (RANET). The network consists of nations that can offer specialized assistance after a radiation incident or emergency. Such assistance is coordinated by the IAEA within the framework of the Assistance Convention.

The IAEA continues to liaise with the Japanese authorities and is monitoring the situation as it evolves.