Starting Monday, they will hold meetings with the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency, plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co. and others, Denis Flory, IAEA deputy director general and head of the department of nuclear safety and security, said at a separate news conference.
"The objective of this mission is to exchange views with Japanese technical experts and to get firsthand information what the current status of the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant is, measures to be taken and also future plans to mitigate the accident," he said.
"It is not an assessment team," he said, adding that this will also "pave the way for future missions which will be expert peer review missions."
Experts from the International Atomic Energy Agency said Friday that levels of radioactive iodine-131 measured in the village of Iitate, about 40 km from the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant, have dropped below levels requiring an evacuation order.
While the industry is doing this, with the support of the Obama administration and many policymakers, there are others taking a less productive approach. Critics are using this crisis to press for a ban on all future nuclear energy investments and a shutdown of current U.S. nuclear power plants.
That would not only be unwise – it is unrealistic. Nuclear energy provides roughly 20 percent of the electricity that our nation uses. It would take decades — and tens of billions of dollars — to replace that capacity.
Meanwhile, nuclear energy is still one of our country’s cleanest energy options. It provides 70 percent of the country’s carbon-free power every year, and is likely to be counted on even more in the future as Washington strives to rein in harmful emissions. No other energy source can now meet the nation’s future clean energy needs on the same scale.
Moreover, it is always a bad idea to make long-term policy in the middle of a crisis. We cannot guess today how Japan will emerge from this tragedy, or what lessons it will provide.
The Sandia National Laboratories in Albuquerque wrote one of the most respected codes. It models whole plants and serves as a main tool of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the Washington agency that oversees the nation’s reactors.So we may expect, when we hear assessments of events of Fukushima, that at least some of it is derived from the work of safety codes.
Areva and French agencies use a reactor code-named Cathare, a complicated acronym that also refers to a kind of goat’s milk cheese.
Christine Todd Whitman