Explosion Unlikely, Says Japan


"Japan and the IAEA share the assessment that 'there is no likelihood of reactor explosion' at the Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear plant."

Japan and the IAEA share the assessment that "there is no likelihood of reactor explosion" at the Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear plant, according to Japan's Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano in Tokyo on Thursday, hours before visiting French President Nicolas Sarkozy, called for "an international safety standard" for nuclear power reactors.. It was not immediately clear whether Japan was now ruling out hydrogen explosions of the kind that rocked the first and third units at the power station shortly after the March 11 quake and tsunami.

Speaking after holding talks with Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan, Sarkozy offered to support Tokyo in overcoming the prolonged crisis at the stricken plant. He also expressed the "hope to have an international safety standard established by the end of this year" for nuclear reactors worldwide.

Sarkozy drew attention to the "French expertise in reactor decommissioning and radiation monitoring." France is known to possess capabilities in using robots and other state-of-the-art devices to manage radiation-related hazards and nuclear reactor problems.

Without going into specifics like the possible deployment of robots, Japanese Foreign Office Spokesman Hidenobu Sobashima said, "We certainly expect that some sort of equipment will be introduced in connection with the advice and cooperation they [France and the U.S.] are offering."

Radiation levels

Independently, the IAEA said in Vienna that Japan was asked to "carefully assess" the radiation levels in places outside the 20 km. evacuation zone around the Fukushima Dai-Ichi plant. The IAEA was also sending an expert to work closely with the Japanese teams monitoring the marine environment.

Responding to the IAEA intervention, Mr. Edano said Japan's own assessment was that there was "no immediate risk to human health" in areas outside the evacuation zone. However, Tokyo would intensify monitoring and act in concert with the IAEA.

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