Yukiya Amano

IAEA to travel to Japan and help with Fukushima clean-up

UN nuclear experts will travel to Japan this week to help with the clean-up from the Fukushima nuclear crisis in March.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said a mission of 12 IAEA and other international experts would be in Japan between October 7-15 "to assist the country in its planning to remediate the areas off-site from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant". The IAEA's involvement, at Japan's request, is a sign of the difficult decontamination task facing the authorities. IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano last month said Japan did not have "that much experience" in carrying out such work.

Nearly seven months after the March 11 earthquake and tsunami triggered reactor meltdowns, explosions and radiation leaks at the plant on Japan's northeast coast, the size of the task of cleaning up is only now becoming clear. Japan faces the prospect of removing and disposing of 29 million cubic metres of soil contaminated by the world's worst nuclear crisis in 25 years from an area nearly the size of Tokyo, the Environment Ministry said earlier this week.

The world's worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl in 1986, has led to the "radiological contamination of large areas", the IAEA said in a statement.

Japan has banned people from entering within a 20km radius of the plant, located about 240km northeast of Tokyo and owned by Tokyo Electric Power Co. Some 80,000 people were forced to evacuate.

The government aims to halve radiation over two years in places contaminated by the crisis, relying on both the natural drop in radiation as time passes and by human efforts.

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