IAEA: No second Chernobyl, no reactor meltdown in Japan
Mar 14, 2011, 18:17 GMT
Vienna - There is currently no sign of a reactor meltdown at Japan's Fukushima 1 power plant and the situation is unlikely to escalate like in Chernobyl 25 years ago, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said Monday in Vienna.
IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano said the main difference with the disaster in Ukraine is that no chain reaction is going on in any of the Fukushima reactors, and that the Japanese reactor cores are housed in containment vessels that were not in place at Chernobyl.
Engineers have struggled to keep temperatures and pressure in the Fukushima reactor cores under control, after the water-cooling system broke down following a massive earthquake and tsunami on Friday.
'I think at this time we don't have any indication of fuel that is currently melting at this point,' senior IAEA safety official James Lyons said.
But he acknowledged that this would be impossible to confirm for some time, until the situation is brought under control and allows for a look inside the cores.
'The possibility that the development of this accident (turns) into the one like in the Chernobyl accident is very unlikely,' Amano, who is from Japan, told reporters.
'This is not an accident because of human errors or design,' he added. 'This is because of a huge natural catastrophe which was beyond the imagination and experience of people.'
Amano confirmed that Japan asked the IAEA for help Monday and that details of the mission were still being discussed with Japan.
The Vienna-based nuclear agency stands ready to offer assistance in measuring radiation, dealing with medical issues and providing emergency response.
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