22 Jun 2011

Nuclear watchdog to beef up safety measures

10:07 pm on 22 June 2011

The United Nations' nuclear watchdog is implementing new steps to improve nuclear safety following the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi plant in Japan three months ago.

During a meeting in Vienna aimed at improving nuclear safety, the International Atomic Energy Agency announced it would strengthen its own safety standards and ensure they are universally applied.

At the moment, there are no compulsory international nuclear safety regulations because many countries believe nuclear safety is the responsibility of individual states.

The BBC reports that the head of IAEA, Yukiya Amano, told the delegates of 150 countries at the meeting that international safety checks must be strengthened in response to the great public anxiety caused by the Fukushima accident and to help prevent a repeat.

"Public confidence in the safety of nuclear power has been badly shaken. However, nuclear power will remain important for many countries, so it is imperative that the most stringent safety measures and implemented everywhere," he said.

Mr Amano said UN experts should be able to carry out random reviews of nuclear power stations - something the BBC says is controversial. He has also called for countries to carry out risk assessments on their reactors within 18 months.