'IAEA warned Japan quake could pose 'serious problem'

WikiLeaks: 2008 US cable shows atomic agency expressed concern that Japanese reactors only designed to withstand magnitude 7.0 tremors.

March 17, 2011 04:41
1 minute read.
Smoke billows from Japanese nuclear plant

Japan Nuclear Plant 311 (R). (photo credit: REUTERS)

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) had warned Japan in 2008 that a strong earthquake could pose a "serious problem" for its nuclear power stations, a US diplomatic cable from the time revealed, Britain's Daily Telegraph reported Wednesday.

The cable leaked to whistle-blower website WikiLeaks suggested that an IAEA expert expressed concern that the Japanese reactors were only designed to withstand magnitude 7.0 tremors.

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The IAEA official told a meeting of the G8's Nuclear Safety and Security Group in Tokyo in 2008 that Japan's safety guidelines were outdated, the cable said.

According to the cable, the official raised concern that safety guidelines for seismic safety were only revised three times in the last 35 years.

"Also, the presenter noted recent earthquakes in some cases have exceeded the design basis for some nuclear plants, and that this is a serious problem that is now driving seismic safety work," the cable noted.

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