Disasters & Accidents

IAEA to maintain presence at Fukushima plant to monitor spill

Tokyo, Jul 7 (EFE).- The International Atomic Energy Agency would keep a permanent presence for decades at the accident-hit Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant to monitor the discharge of treated radioactive water and raise an alert in the case of irregularities, the UN watchdog’s head Rafael Grossi said on Friday.

The IAEA has reached an agreement with Japanese authorities and the operator of the plant, the Tokyo Electric Power Company, to maintain a permanent office at the nuclear facilities as the process of releasing treated water into the Pacific would continue along with the dismantling of the reactor.

“We’ll provide live continuous monitoring throughout treated water discharge process. Our task is just starting – we’re here for the long haul,” Grossi said after opening the office, according to an IAEA release.

Talking to reporters in Tokyo at the end of his visit, the IAEA chief said that the agency would ensure that there was no damage to the environment and alert Japanese authorities if a problem was detected.

Grossi highlighted that although the agency would offer a technical monitoring of the spill, it had no authority to stop or start the discharge.

The IAEA had released a report on Tuesday that said that the Japanese plan to release tons of treated radioactive water into the Pacific ocean complied with international security standards and would not have a significant impact on human health and the environment.

However, the IAEA green-light has failed to quell opposition to the project by local fisherman in Fukushima, while the imminent spill has also triggered concerns among neighboring countries such as China and South Korea.

Addressing doubts and criticism related to safety over the spill, Grossi said he had full confidence in the monitoring process carried out by the IAEA and their conclusions were “solid,” repeating that traces of radioactive matter that could be released in the Pacific were of an insignificant quantity.

The Argentine diplomat said he understood the opposition to the spill and said it was “logical” as this was a subject difficult to understand for those who were not experts.

He said that the UN watchdog and Japanese authorities should prevent any damage and increase efforts to duly explain what the discharge actually means.

In this context, Grossi is set to travel to South Korea, where he would stay until Sunday and meet local authorities before travelling to island countries in the Pacific, which have expressed their own concerns over the release of Fukushima water.

China, which has strongly criticized the plan and urged Japan to abandon it, insisted on Friday that its customs authorities would apply a “high degree of vigilance” on imports of food products from Japan due to “concern among Chinese consumers” over the safety of Japanese products.

In South Korea, even though surveys have shown that around 80 percent of the population opposes the spill and the main opposition party has made a strong pitch against the project, the government on Friday published a report by a group of its own experts whose conclusions are similar to those of the IAEA. EFE


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