VIENNA, Austria (AP) -- Japan's worst nuclear accident was caused
by human error and safety breaches but did not result in major
radioactive contamination, the International Atomic Energy Agency
The agency's conclusions were contained in a preliminary report
issued Monday on the Sept. 30 accident at Tokaimura that severely
injured three nuclear plant workers and exposed at least 66 other
people to significant radiation. Thousands of people were forced
indoors or evacuated.
The uncontrolled nuclear reaction was not brought under control
for 17 hours, but radiation levels away from the plant building
remained extremely low, the report said.
Lothar Wedekind, a spokesman at the Vienna-based agency, said
human error and ``serious breaches of safety principles'' led to
He said the report describes the event as an ``irradiation
accident'' and not a ``contamination accident,'' because there was
no significant release of radioactive material.
Safety features and procedures at the reactor and emergency
responses should be evaluated, he said, adding that the IAEA would
be willing to participate if requested by Japan.