The situation at Japan’s stricken nuclear plant is “very serious,” but does not appear to be deteriorating, says a senior official of the UN atomic agency.
As emergency workers frantically worked to regain control of the dangerously overheated nuclear complex, Graham Andrew told reporters in Vienna that “there had been no significant worsening” over the past 24 hours at the crippled plant.
Andrew, a senior aide to International Atomic Energy Agency chief Yukiya Amano, emphasised that the situation could change quickly, either improving or escalating into a wider catastrophe.
“It hasn’t gotten worse, which is positive, But it is still possible that it could get worse,” he said. “We could say it’s reasonably stable at the moment compared to yesterday.”
Andrew spoke shortly after Amano flew to Tokyo to assess efforts to fight the nuclear havoc unleashed by the massive earthquake and tsunami that hit Japan’s north-eastern coast.
It was unclear what Amano hoped to accomplish during his one-day trip; he has said he plans to stay in Tokyo and meet government officials but he had no agenda or scheduled meetings before takeoff from Vienna international airport.
“We don’t have a fixed schedule and don’t have all the information so we will be thinking on our feet,” Amano told reporters.
Still, he suggested his trip was symbolically important as his home country wrestles with its worst nuclear crisis since the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki 66 years ago.
“Japan is not alone, the international community is standing by Japan,” Amano declared. “We have lots of offers of assistance to Japan and I would like to convey this message to them.”
In Japan, military helicopters dumped loads of sea water onto the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant as they tried to cool overheated uranium fuel that may be on the verge of spewing out more radiation.