Wednesday, January 16, 2008

IAEA to re-inspect quake-hit Japan nuclear plant

January 11, 2008

VIENNA, Jan 11 (Reuters) - International Atomic Energy Agency experts will revisit an earthquake-hit Japanese nuclear plant, the world's largest, to check safety standards as part of efforts to restart the complex, the IAEA said on Friday.

The Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant leaked low amounts of radiation -- below the maximum permitted under safety rules -- when a 6.8 magnitude quake struck on July 16, exceeding the worst seismic impact the plant had been designed to withstand.

IAEA experts visited the plant in August and would now return on Jan. 28 and stay through Feb. 1 at the invitation of Japan's nuclear watchdog NISA, the Vienna-based agency said.

"The 12 members of the follow-up mission will hold discussions with Japanese experts and conduct an examination at the site in relation to the seismic safety of its seven units," it said in a statement.

The plant's owners, the Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) (9501.T: Quote, Profile, Research), and NISA will also brief the IAEA experts on results of studies and investigations undertaken since the earthquake.

U.N. inspectors said in August it might take more than a year to restart power production at the plant since in-depth examinations of the reactor vessel and the fuel elements still had to be done. (Reporting by Karin Strohecker; editing by Mark Heinrich)

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