Fukushima - Briefing IAEA - 18 march 14:00 UTC

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Briefing on the Fukushima Nuclear Emergency (18 March 14:00 UTC)

On 18 March 2011, 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 in IAEA headquarters in Vienna, are provided below:

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.

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.

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