UN nuclear watchdog highlights lesson of Fukushima

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An important lesson of Fukushima is that regulators must be strong, independent and adequately resourced, the chief of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has said.

Nuclear safety is the key to the expansion of nuclear power, which promises to "stabilize the climate while allowing economies and societies to thrive," said IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi in a statement released late Tuesday to mark the tenth anniversary of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant accident.

Back in 2011, a devastating earthquake and tsunami struck Japan's northeastern area, killing more than 15,000 people and sparking the Fukushima nuclear meltdown.

"The accident galvanised the international community," Grossi said, noting that within just a few months of the accident, member states had endorsed a comprehensive action plan to strengthen the global nuclear safety framework developed by the IAEA.

"Today, virtually all member states with nuclear power plants have completed 'stress tests' and many make use of the IAEA's expert peer-review missions," he said.

He emphasised that since Fukushima, "a sustained and robust global safety culture" has come into being alongside the concrete improvements in the safety of nuclear sites.

The director general also pointed out that scientists have found no evidence that nuclides released into the environment after the accident caused radiation-induced health effects.

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