Vienna, Oct 10 (EFE).- A group of scientists from the IAEA, the UN nuclear agency, and other international observers will travel to Japan next week to collect marine samples near the disaster-hit Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant discharging treated water from its facilities into the Pacific Ocean.
The samples will then be analyzed at laboratories in various countries, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said in a statement in Vienna on Tuesday.
Millions of tons of water were contaminated at the plant following the severe nuclear accident it suffered in 2011 after a powerful earthquake and subsequent tsunami.
This water is treated through a complex filtration system that removes most harmful radioactive elements, except for tritium (a naturally occurring nuclear isotope), before being stored in tanks for discharge.
The first phase of the release took place between August 24 and September 11, and the plant’s operator, Tokyo Electric Power Company, began the second phase on October 3.
“From 16-23 October, the IAEA team will observe the collection and processing of seawater, marine sediment, and fish samples from coastal waters in the vicinity of the FDNPS,” the IAEA said in its release.
Two IAEA Marine Environment Laboratories members in Monaco and experts from laboratories in Canada, China, and South Korea will participate in the sample collection.
These will be used “to corroborate Japan’s environmental monitoring and to assess the country’s relevant technical capabilities,” the IAEA said.
The results of the analyses will also be compared with samples taken a year ago to determine whether there have been any changes in the levels of radionuclides in the marine environment since water discharges from the plant began in August.
“Identical samples will be sent to all laboratories participating in the comparison study and analyzed for radioactivity,” says the IAEA, the UN agency responsible for ensuring the peaceful use of nuclear technology.
The results of the analyses by Health Canada, the Third Institute of Oceanography of China, the Korean Institute of Nuclear Safety, and those obtained by the Japanese laboratories will then be sent to the IAEA for evaluation and publication.
There are more than 1,000 tanks of contaminated water on the site of the nuclear plant, and its discharge (criticized by the Chinese government) is expected to continue for at least 30 years. EFE