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International Fact-Finding Mission Updates

Updates of 22 May - 1 June 2011

Fact-Finding Mission

Members of the IAEA fact-finding team in Japan visit the emergency diesel generator at Reactor Unit 6 at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. The generator was the only one to survive the 11 March earthquake and tsunami, 27 May 2011. (Photo: G. Webb/IAEA)

IAEA Fact-Finding Team Completes Visit to Japan (1 June 2011)


A team of international nuclear safety experts today completed a preliminary assessment of the safety issues linked with TEPCO's Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station accident following the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami. The team - created by an agreement of the IAEA and the Government of Japan - sought to identify lessons learned from the accident that can help improve nuclear safety around the world.

To conduct its work, the team held extensive discussions with officials from the full range of Japanese nuclear-related agencies and visited three nuclear sites, including the nuclear power plant at TEPCO's Fukushima Daiichi. These visits gave the team a first-hand appreciation of the scale of devastation wreaked by the earthquake and tsunami on 11 March and of the extraordinary efforts Japanese workers have been applying ever since to stabilize the situation.

"Our entire team was humbled by the enormous damage inflicted by the tsunami on Japan. We are also profoundly impressed by the dedication of Japanese workers working to resolve this unprecedented nuclear accident," said team leader Mike Weightman, the United Kingdom's Chief Inspector of Nuclear Installations.

The team was comprised of international experts with experience across a range of nuclear specialties. They came from 12 countries: Argentina, China, France, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Russia, South Korea, Spain, Turkey, United Kingdom and the United States.

In a draft report summary delivered to Japanese authorities today, the team prepared a set of preliminary conclusions and identified lessons learned in three broad areas: external hazards, severe accident management and emergency preparedness. The final report will be delivered to the Ministerial Conference on Nuclear Safety at IAEA headquarters in Vienna from 20 to 24 June.

The expert team made several preliminary findings and lessons learned, including:

  • Japan's response to the nuclear accident has been exemplary, particularly illustrated by the dedicated, determined and expert staff working under exceptional circumstances;
  • Japan's long-term response, including the evacuation of the area around stricken reactors, has been impressive and well organized. A suitable and timely follow-up programme on public and worker exposures and health monitoring would be beneficial;
  • The tsunami hazard for several sites was underestimated. Nuclear plant designers and operators should appropriately evaluate and protect against the risks of all natural hazards, and should periodically update those assessments and assessment methodologies;
  • Nuclear regulatory systems should address extreme events adequately, including their periodic review, and should ensure that regulatory independence and clarity of roles are preserved; and
  • The Japanese accident demonstrates the value of hardened on-site Emergency Response Centres with adequate provisions for handling all necessary emergency roles, including communications.

"I appreciate the high level of cooperation and access that our team has received from Japan, as the devastating natural events and subsequent accident at TEPCO's Fukushima Daiichi have provided a unique opportunity for learning," Weightman said. "It is of fundamental importance for all with responsibility for nuclear safety across the world to seek to learn from this unique event."

Fact-Finding Mission Prepares Report (30 May 2011)


The IAEA's Fact-Finding Mission in Japan has begun drafting its report on lessons that can be learned from the Japanese nuclear accident. The report is being prepared in advance of the Ministerial Conference on Nuclear Safety at IAEA headquarters in Vienna on 20 to 24 June.

The team's international experts from 12 nations visited three Japanese nuclear power facilities, including the Fukushima Daiichi plant, the site of the nuclear accident on 27 May 2011. Since that visit, team members have held extensive technical discussions with Japanese officials from a variety of nuclear-related agencies.

Fact-Finding Mission Visits Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant (27 May 2011)


The IAEA's Fact-Finding Mission in Japan visited the tsunami-damaged Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant on 27 May 2011, the final site visit of the team's programme to identify lessons from the Japanese nuclear accident that could help improve global nuclear safety.

The team's international experts from 12 nations held discussions with top plant operating officials and toured the six-reactor facility.

"Visiting Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant was a once-in-a-lifetime experience - once in 10 lifetimes, I suspect. Our team left with great admiration for the extraordinary workers who have been undertaking such immensely difficult tasks," said team leader Mike Weightman, the United Kingdom's chief inspector of nuclear installations.

Next for the team are continuing discussions with Japanese officials from a variety of agencies as part of an exchange of technical data that will assist the mission in drafting its report, which will be presented to the Ministerial Conference on Nuclear Safety at IAEA headquarters in Vienna on 20 to 24 June.

Fact-Finding Mission Review Tsunami Damage at Tokai Daini and Fukushima Daini Nuclear Power Plants (26 May 2011)


The IAEA's Fact-Finding Mission in Japan visited two nuclear power plants in northeastern Japan on 26 May 2011 as part of the team's effort to identify lessons from the Japanese nuclear accident that could improve global nuclear safety.

Team members spent the morning at the Tokai Daini Nuclear Power Plant and then visited the Fukushima Daini Nuclear Power Plant. The team's experts from 12 nations examined the Tokai Daini Nuclear Power Plant and then visited the Fukushima Daini Nuclear Power Plant to review the damage at both sites and held technical talks with plant operators.

Fact-Finding Mission in Ministerial Meetings (25 May 2011)


The IAEA's Fact-Finding mission in Tokyo completed on 25 May 2011 its first full day of work to identify lessons from the Japanese nuclear accident that could improve global nuclear safety.

The 18-member team, including experts from 12 nations, held three hours of technical meetings at Japan's Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency (NISA), as well as three ministerial meetings. The team met Foreign Minister Takeaki Matsumoto, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano, and Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Yoshiaki Takaki.

"We had interesting discussions and very open discussions, and we have had full cooperation while we've been here. We look forward to more interesting discussions as we go forward," said team leader Mike Weightman, the United Kingdom's chief nuclear inspector.

International Fact-finding Mission Leader Launches Mission in Tokyo (24 May 2011)


The leader of the International Fact-Finding Mission, Mr. Mike Weightman, Britain's top nuclear safety inspector, arrived in Tokyo on 24 May 2011 to begin his study of the nuclear situation in Japan. Following its agreement with the Government of Japan, the IAEA organized and dispatched the mission, consisting of a team of nuclear experts from 12 countries who will prepare a report for the Ministerial Conference on Nuclear Safety at IAEA headquarters in Vienna on 20 to 24 June.

"For me, to maximize nuclear safety you must work on learning lessons and continuously improving throughout time. Therefore we'll use our opportunity here to come to Japan, gather information to see how the world can learn lessons from these unique events," Weightman said today following a meeting with Japanese Minister Banri Kaieda, head of the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry.

The International Fact-Finding team is scheduled to continue its meetings on 25 May 2011 with senior Japanese officials. Later in the week, the team will also conduct site visits to nuclear power plants at Tokai, Fukushima Daini and Fukushima Daiichi.

Mission team members are international experts in a number of disciplines including: safety assessment and defence-in-depth; the effects of earthquake, tsunami, explosions and after-shocks on structures, systems and controls; severe accident analysis and management procedures; external events assessment; emergency preparedness and response; spent fuel management under severe degradation; and radiological consequences.

IAEA Experts in Japan Prepare International Fact-Finding Mission (23 May 2011)


Experts from the Vienna headquarters of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) arrived in Tokyo on 23 May 2011 where they are preparing the International Fact-finding Mission that will include fact-finding activities at Tokyo Electric Power Company's Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power Station and other locations.

The IAEA organized and dispatched the mission following its agreement with the Government of Japan. Nearly 20 international and IAEA experts from a dozen countries will participate in the mission that conduct its activities from 24 May to 2 June 2011. The mission is led by Mr. Mike Weightman, HM Chief Inspector of Nuclear Installations of the United Kingdom.

The expert mission will make a preliminary assessment of the safety issues linked with TEPCO's Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power Station accident following the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami. During the mission, areas that need further exploration or assessment based on the IAEA safety standards will also be identified.

In the course of the IAEA mission, the international experts will become acquainted with the Japanese lessons learned from the accident and will share their experience and expertise in their fields of competence with the Japanese authorities.

Mr. Weightman will present the mission's report at the Ministerial Conference on Nuclear Safety organised by the IAEA in Vienna from 20 to 24 June 2011, as an important input in the process of reviewing and strengthening the global nuclear safety framework that will be launched by the Conference.

IAEA Experts En Route to Japan to Prepare International Fact-Finding Mission (22 May 2011)


Experts from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) departed Vienna on 22 May 2011 en route to Tokyo where they will prepare for the International Fact-finding Mission in Japan.

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-- By Peter Kaiser, IAEA Division of Public Information


(Note to Media: We encourage you to republish these stories and kindly request attribution to the IAEA).