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Asia-Pacific

Japan to stress test all nuclear reactors

media A temporary barrier in front of the Fukushima nuclear plant at the end … Reuters

Japan will run “stress tests” on all its nuclear reactors, officials announced on Wednesday. And Fukushima city, 60 kilometres from the site of the nuclear plant hit by the 11 March earthquake, has declared its population safe from radiation.

The safety of Japan’s nuclear power plants has been secured, according to Trade, Economy and Industry Minister Banri Kaieda. These new tests will determine how well the plants would withstand any future disasters.

They will lead to restarting operations at some plants, he said.

The government did not give details of what the tests would entail, only saying that they will be modelled on those recently carried out by the European Union (EU).

The EU ordered stress tests for its 143 nuclear plants following the Fukushima crisis, checking to see how they would withstand multiple disasters.

The 11 March tsunami knocked out Fukushima’s back-up generators, disabling reactor cooling systems and leading to meltdowns and the leakage of radiation into the air, soil and sea.

Only 19 of Japan’s 54 reactors are currently operating causing an ongoing energy crisis in the country’s sweltering summer months.

A spokesperson for authorities in Fukushima city on Wednesday declared that its 300,000 people are safe from radiation, in response to a call from six citizens' and anti-nuclear groups to evacuate children and pregnant women.

They warned of high radiation found in soil samples, even if radiation readings have fallen since March.

City authorities have removed top soil from schoolyards, washed school buildings’ walls and cleared mud from gutters to protect children from radiation exposure, officials say.

School children will soon receive radiation meters to monitor exposure.

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