IAEA chief sees more nuclear power use despite Fukushima crisis

Reuters News
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Posted: Jul 26, 2011 6:48 AM
IAEA chief sees more nuclear power use despite Fukushima crisis

TOKYO (Reuters) - The head of the U.N. atomic watchdog said Tuesday he expected global use of nuclear power to continue expanding despite the world's worst radiation crisis in 25 years at Japan's tsunami-hit Fukushima nuclear plant.

"There are some countries like Germany that have revised (their energy policy). But many countries still believe nuclear power generation is necessary given global warming," said Yukiya Amano, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

"The rate of expansion could slow, but it will surely keep growing."

Amano's comments followed a meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan, who said this month that the Fukushima disaster had convinced him Japan should wean itself from nuclear power and eventually have no atomic plants.

A 9.0-magnitude earthquake and deadly tsunami on March 11 crippled Tokyo Electric Power Co's Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, triggering radiation leaks into the atmosphere and the ocean.

The incident has forced about 80,000 people to evacuate from the area around the plant and severely affected sales of farm produce after radiation levels exceeding safety standards were detected in beef, vegetables and tea.

Amano said he told Kan that the IAEA was ready to offer support to Japan in decontamination and the handling of melted fuel rods, in which the atomic watchdog has expertise, and that Kan said Japan planned to work closely with the agency.

Japan said last week that it was on track with efforts to take control of the Fukushima nuclear plant but cautioned that the final clean-up of the disaster would take many years.

(Reporting by Kiyoshi Takenaka; Editing by Edmund Klamann)