Nuclear safety bolstered since Fukushima accident, says Grossi

10 March 2021

The March 2011 accident at Japan's Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant "galvanised the international community," International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi said today. He outlined the work the IAEA and its Member States have done to strengthen nuclear safety in the ten years since the accident.

AEA Director General Grossi on a visit to the Fukushima Daiichi plant in February 2020 (Image: Dean Calma / IAEA)

Grossi noted that, within a few days of the accident, the IAEA sent a team of experts to Japan to help engineers assess the damage, and it has continued to assist the country over the past decade. He said the IAEA is currently assisting Japan tackle the ongoing challenge of the vast amounts of contaminated water stored on the Fukushima Daiichi site.

The IAEA has put in thousands of man-hours and compiled thousands of pages of data and knowledge about the accident, Grossi said in the video statement.

"Within just a few months of the accident, the IAEA had developed a comprehensive action plan to strengthen the global nuclear safety framework and Member States had endorsed it. Around the world, operators' engineers analysed their nuclear reactors and made upgrades where necessary. Today, virtually all Member States with nuclear power plants have completed 'stress tests' and many make use of the IAEA's expert peer-review missions."

Grossi said the IAEA has built a single platform that promotes clear nuclear safety practices for existing sites and those being developed and constructed. "Our work has not only led to concrete improvements in the safety of nuclear sites; it has created a sustained and robust global safety culture.

"We have developed and improved Safety Standards, norms and guidance. The adoption of the Vienna Declaration brought together all parties of the Convention on Nuclear Safety to reinforce its principles."

An important lesson of the Fukushima Daiichi accident, Grossi said, is that regulators must be "strong, independent and adequately resourced".

"A robust, normative safety framework with the IAEA at its centre is critically important. Because nuclear safety is not an end in itself; it is the means to an end. It is the key to nuclear power's expansion. And thus it is the key to nuclear meeting its biggest promise of all - the ability to help stabilise the climate while allowing economies and societies to thrive, fuelled by safe, stable and sustainable carbon-free energy."

Researched and written by World Nuclear News