Disasters & Accidents

IAEA team visits Japan to review Fukushima spill plan

Tokyo, Feb 7 (EFE).- A team from the International Atomic Energy Agency has been visiting Japan since Monday to review plans for the discharge of contaminated and treated water from the Fukushima nuclear power plant, scheduled to begin in 2023.

Some members of the team arrived in the Asian country Monday, where they will remain until Feb. 21, to coordinate the activities and meetings of the visit, next week with the arrival in Japan of Gustavo Caruso, Technological Security Coordination Office director.

Caruso heads the mission of representatives of the agency and other international experts who will be in Japan from Feb. 14 to Feb. 18 to review the feasibility and safety of the spill plan, the Foreign Affairs Ministry reported in a Monday statement.

The IAEA team “will hold meetings with the relevant ministries and with the Tokyo Electric Power company to address coordination on water management,” and will visit the damaged Fukushima nuclear power plant, before appearing in public, a government spokesman told EFE.

The team was scheduled to visit the country in December, but the trip was postponed due to the spread of the Covid-19 omicron variant.

The government announced in April its plans to dump the contaminated water used to cool the damaged reactor cores at the Fukushima Daiichi plant into Pacific waters, after treating it to remove most of the radioactive elements, a process scheduled to start in 2023.

Japan’s plans have been strongly opposed by local fishing communities, whose activities have failed to return to levels prior to the 2011 atomic accident, as well as by neighboring countries such as China and South Korea, wary of the security of the spill.

Japan spent years deliberating on this controversial measure, mainly aimed at solving the problem of the accumulation of radioactive water in the Fukushima facilities, one of the most pressing issues in its dismantling.

This water, stored in huge tanks, comes from the cooling of the reactors, as well as from underground aquifers and from rain that leaks and ends up contaminated with radioactive isotopes.

The liquid is treated with a processing system that eliminates most of the radioactive materials considered dangerous, with the exception of tritium, an isotope present in nature, although in low concentration.

Japanese authorities said the spill will not generate any risk to human health because the levels of tritium released into the sea will be below national health standards and said this is a common practice in the nuclear industry in other countries. EFE


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