U.N. launches study of Japan nuclear crisis

UNITED NATIONS Sat May 21, 2011 7:04am IST

Water rushes into Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO)'s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, after a tsunami triggered by an earthquake, in Fukushima, in this handout photo taken March 11, 2011, from the fourth floor of the radioactive waste disposal building, and released by TEPCO on May 19, 2011. REUTERS/Tokyo Electric Power Co/Handout

Water rushes into Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO)'s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, after a tsunami triggered by an earthquake, in Fukushima, in this handout photo taken March 11, 2011, from the fourth floor of the radioactive waste disposal building, and released by TEPCO on May 19, 2011.

Credit: Reuters/Tokyo Electric Power Co/Handout

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - The United Nations on Friday launched a study of the health, safety and security impact of the accident at Japan's Fukushima nuclear plant, which was crippled by an earthquake and tsunami in March.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said the United Nations would undertake "a U.N. system-wide study on the implications of the Fukushima accident" and present the findings at a high-level meeting on the implications of the crisis to be held during the annual U.N. General Assembly meeting in September.

The report "will address a variety of areas, including environment, health, food security, sustainable development and the nexus between nuclear safety and nuclear security," Ban said in a statement.

"It will also present system-wide views on how to improve disaster risk preparedness," he said. "In producing this study, it is my intention to highlight the need to strengthen the capacity of the relevant international organizations, particularly the IAEA, recognizing its central role."

The head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Yukio Amano, said on Thursday that the Japanese nuclear crisis remained very serious though there were some signs of progress.

The IAEA, the World Health Organization and the World Food Program are among the U.N. agencies that will be carrying out the study.

The earthquake and tsunami in northeast Japan in March triggered the accident at Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, the worst nuclear crisis in 25 years, raising questions about the future of nuclear energy and fueling public fears about the risks of atomic power plants.

"The effects of a nuclear plant disaster -- from prevention to clean-up -- should be more fully reflected in the assessment of how to ensure the peaceful uses of nuclear energy and maximum safety," Ban said in the statement.

(Reporting by Louis Charbonneau; Editing by Eric Walsh)

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