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Last Updated: Friday, 17 August 2007, 20:42 GMT 21:42 UK
Japanese nuclear damage 'limited'
By Bethany Bell
BBC News, Vienna

IAEA inspectors at the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa power plant
IAEA inspectors said their work was still in its early stages
United Nations experts say earthquake damage to the world's largest nuclear power plant, in Japan, appears to be limited and less than expected.

The Kashiwazaki-Kariwa station was hit by a 6.8-magnitude quake on 16 July, that killed at least 10 people.

There was found to have been a radioactive leak and it was shut down.

Inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) warned there could be implications for the long term operation of the plant.

The IAEA report says although the earthquake was significantly larger than the nuclear plant had been designed to handle, the power station had behaved in a safe manner, both during and after the quake.

It says those reactors which had been operating at full power had successfully shut down automatically.

But the report said the investigation was still in its early stages. It said in-depth examinations still needed to be performed in key parts of the plant, such as the reactor vessels and the fuel elements.

And the report warned there could be hidden damage which may affect the long-term operation of the power station.

It said levels of potential seismic activity at the site should be re-evaluated. Officials at the IAEA say the investigations could take months to complete.

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