IAEA examines water discharge from damaged Japanese nuclear power plant – WHIO TV 7 and WHIO Radio

TOKYO — (AP) — A team from the International Atomic Energy Agency began its review Monday of Japan’s plan to begin dumping more than a million tons of treated radioactive water into the sea from the power plant. destroyed Fukushima nuclear power plant – a review that Japan hopes to inspire confidence in the plan.

The 15-member team is due to visit the Fukushima plant on Tuesday and meet with government and utility officials during its five-day mission.

The government and Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings announced plans last year to start gradually releasing the still-contaminated water in the spring of 2023 after further treatment and dilution.

Water is stored in about 1,000 tanks at the damaged plant which officials say must be removed so the reactors can be decommissioned. The tanks are expected to reach their capacity of 1.37 million tonnes later this year.

A massive earthquake and tsunami in 2011 destroyed the cooling systems at the Fukushima power plant, causing three reactors to melt down and release large amounts of radiation. Much of the water used since the accident to cool the damaged highly radioactive reactor cores has since leaked.

The release of water into the sea has been fiercely opposed by fishermen, local residents and Japan’s neighbors including China and South Korea. Fukushima residents fear that the reputation of their agricultural and fishery products will be further damaged.

Japan asked for help from the IAEA to ensure the release meets international safety standards and to better understand other countries.

Gustavo Caruso, director of the IAEA’s Safety and Security Coordination Office, said Monday that the mission “in an objective, credible and science-based manner will help send messages of transparency and confidence to inhabitants of Japan and elsewhere”.

The team will review water details, safety of discharge, sampling methods and environmental impact, he said. The team includes experts from several countries, including South Korea and China.

Officials say that all isotopes selected for treatment in contaminated water can be reduced to low levels, with the exception of tritium, which is inseparable from water but is harmless in small amounts. They say a gradual release of water, diluted with seawater, into the ocean over decades is safe.

Keiichi Yumoto, who leads the response to the Fukushima accident at the Ministry of Industry, raised concerns about the safety of the project and said it was “very important” to have reviews by the IAEA to “promote public understanding”.

Junichi Matsumoto, TEPCO’s general manager in charge of treated water management, said the utility prioritizes safety and reputational impact in the region.

“Ensuring transparency and objectivity is crucial to the project,” said Matsumoto, who attended a meeting Monday with IAEA and government officials. “We hope to further improve the objectivity and transparency of the process based on the review.”

Japan and the IAEA have agreed to compile an interim report on the review later this year.

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