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Nuclear Regulators Delay Study of Fukushima Lessons Until 2012

Nuclear powers ended a closed-door meeting by delaying for 16 months consideration of the failures that triggered the meltdown at Japan’s Fukushima Dai-Ichi plant.

The 72-nation Convention on Nuclear Safety pledged to hold an extraordinary meeting in August 2012 to review the breakdown of safety systems at Fukushima, according to a seven-paragraph statement released today in Vienna.

“It is understood that the lessons-learned process cannot be completed until sufficient additional information is known and fully analyzed,” according to the statement. “Japan has committed to provide this information as soon as possible.”

Backup generators and cooling systems at the Fukushima Dai-Ichi station were knocked out by a 15-meter (49-foot) tsunami following a magnitude-9 earthquake on March 11, triggering the worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl in 1986. Hydrogen explosions occurred as water in the reactors and spent-fuel ponds boiled away and radiation leaked into the air and sea.

Japan’s representative to the meeting, Ichiro Ogasawara, thanked the regulators and industry participants for their “solidarity in the course of the review meeting” during “this crucial juncture in the history of the convention.”

Signatories to the treaty, drafted after the 1986 Chernobyl meltdown in Ukraine, will also evaluate whether the convention does enough to promote nuclear safety when they meet next year.

“Nuclear safety is the very lifeline of nuclear power development,” China’s Li Ganjie, who presided at the meeting that began April 4 and ended today, said at a briefing. “It is a global issue. Members of the public have anxiety about nuclear safety issues.”

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