(MENAFN - Kuwait News Agency (KUNA)) The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said Tuesday that Japan's safety tests for the idled nuclear reactors were in line with the international standards, but called for a more comprehensive disaster management programs.
"Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency's (NISA) instructions to power plants and its review process for the comprehensive safety assessments are generally consistent with IAEA safety standards," James Lyons, the head of the 10-member IAEA delegation, said after submitting a report to the NISA on its nine-day mission in Japan.
"We were very impressed with the way Japan quickly implemented the emergency safety measures after the accident in March. They have also been very active in participating in the international community to determine the steps forward," Lyons told a press conference.
At the request of the Japanese government, the IAEA team, consist of nuclear experts and international specialists, was dispatched to review whether Japan has conducted properly safety tests for the idled reactors that have gone offline for scheduled checkups.
NISA said earlier this month the tests were appropriate. However, the UN nuclear watchdog also said in the report that NISA should make sure utilities will develop comprehensive accident management plans. It also suggested greater engagement of local municipalities which host the reactors in the stress test process.
The IAEA team also made an on-site investigation at the Oi nuclear power plant in Fukui Prefecture, of which the two reactors are currently idled for scheduled checkups, to review the effectiveness of its safety measures. NISA will finalize its assessment of the two reactors as early as February after studying the IAEA's findings. The government requires utilities to conduct so-called stress tests to examine for reactors' resilience to extreme natural conditions, such as mega earthquakes, tsunami, floods, snow and storms in the aftermath of the nuclear accident at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant in March.
But none of offline reactors have yet been approved for restart even after the stress test amid growing public concerns about atomic power. The first stage of the stress tests cover currently idled reactors to determine whether they can be restarted, while the second stage assess all 54 reactors in Japan. Only three of them are currently operating, and the remaining active reactors will also go offline by late April for regular maintenance.
The Fukushima Daiichi plant, located 230 km north of Tokyo, was hit by a magnitude-9 earthquake and tsunami on March 11, which triggered the crisis, leading meltdowns at three of its six reactors.