UN to assess stricken Fukushima power plant

UN atomic agency begins nine-day mission to assess clean-up efforts as the plant's operator struggles to contain radioactive contamination.

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TOKYO // The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) began talks with Japanese officials yesterday to assess clean-up efforts at the crippled Fukushima nuclear power plant.

The UN atomic agency began the nine-day mission at the request of the Japanese government, as it did in 2011 following a powerful earthquake and tsunami that sparked the reactor meltdowns.

The plant’s operator has struggled to contain radioactive contamination, admitting in July that highly toxic water from the site may have leaked out to sea.

“The international community and the agency in particular are very interested in following the recovery activities in Japan,” Juan Carlos Lentijo, director of the IAEA’s nuclear fuel cycle and waste technology division, told Japanese officials at the environment ministry.

Mr Lentijo will lead a 16-member team to tour polluted areas near the stricken plant, 220 kilometres northeast of Tokyo

Mr Lentijo said the team hoped to advise on the clean-up as well as ways of dealing with radioactive waste.

The Japanese vice environment minister, Shinji Inoue, told IAEA officials: “We have great expectations that you will provide us with significant advice.”

Since the 2011 earthquake the plant has continued to leak, with some radioactive water suspected of flowing into the Pacific Ocean.

* Agence France-Presse