UPDATE - Info on Nuclear Mishaps to be Shared Over Internet

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Info on nuclear mishaps to be shared over Internet

Yomiuri Shimbun - June 16, 2000


The Paris-based Nuclear Energy Agency (NEA), a semi-autonomous body within the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, plans to set up an Internet information exchange system that will immediately inform countries around the world about accidents at nuclear-power plants and nuclear-fuel processing facilities, sources close to the body said.

When the criticality accident occurred at Tokaimura, Ibaraki Prefecture, in September, some foreign news organizations reported that the roof of the uranium-reconversion plant was damaged. This misinformation prompted overseas nuclear organizations to try to confirm whether the information was true.

The establishment of the envisaged system, scheduled for autumn, would avoid such confusion, the sources said.

Under the proposed system, when an accident or malfunction occurs at a nuclear-power facility, a government body will immediately publish information on a dedicated Web site, the sources said.

The information will be updated as data on radiation levels detected changes and more detailed information on the accident becomes available, the sources said.

After accessing the information, which will be password-protected, other governmental bodies can determine whether the accident will effect their countries and discuss the need for providing assistance, the sources said.

Late last year and early this year, NEA operated a similar system to enable countries that had nuclear-power plants to exchange information on Y2K glitches.

Since all participants praised the effectiveness of the system when the NEA presented it at a Tokyo seminar in May on safety at nuclear-fuel processing facilities, the body decided to go ahead with the new plan.

The initial system is currently not in operation, but will be relaunched after being upgraded.

The NEA was established in 1958 to conduct research on peaceful uses of nuclear power and exchange information. The organization, which Japan joined in 1972, has 27 member countries.

Copyright 2000 The Yomiuri Shimbun


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