Disasters & Accidents

Int’l atomic agency to monitor Japan’s planned Fukushima water dump

Tokyo, Sep 9 (EFE).- The International Atomic Energy Agency announced Thursday it would send several missions to Japan to supervise the safety of contaminated and processed water from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant to be dumped into the Pacific Ocean in 2023.

The agency, which visited the ground this week to analyze preparations, said it looks to provide “transparency” on this controversial measure, Lydie Evrard, the organism’s head of nuclear safety said Thursday at a press conference.

The seawater used to cool the damaged reactors of Fukushima Daiichi will be processed to remove all radioactive isotopes except tritium and diluted before it goes into the ocean. According to the Japanese government, the water is safe enough to meet drinking water standards from the World Health Organization.

This measure, however, has generated strong opposition from the Fukushima fishing community, who fear further damage to their economic activities, in addition to provoking angry protests from neighboring countries such as South Korea and China.

The agency , which already gave its approval to the plan announced in April and offered to cooperate with the Japanese authorities, will send several delegations to Japan to monitor steps until the spill takes place in the spring of 2023.

The international organization “will issue a report with the results of its evaluation” before the spill and will base its analysis “on the highest safety standards,” Evrard said in a virtual meeting with media during the IAEA’s preliminary visit, which began Monday and will end Friday.

Evrard didn’t address complaints from Beijing, Seoul and local Fukushima communities, although she said that among international experts that will participate in the studies there will be Chinese and South Korean specialists.

“We will listen to different concerns and take them into account,” said Evrard, who also said the main objective of the agency’s missions is “to create the most comprehensive assessment possible of the safety” of the measure.

The agency’s deputy director general said water discharges into the sea from nuclear power plants are a “frequent practice” by other countries, although she said the presence of tritium in the planned discharge and the use of water to cool the reactors are particular to Japan’s case.

China and South Korea said the water will pose a risk to human health and the environment, and have officially protested Japan about their plans, further worsening bilateral relations.

Japan sees the controlled dump as an essential step to dismantling the Fukushima plant, a region still suffering the consequences of the 2011 nuclear accident, including tens of thousands of displaced people and the collapse of the local fishing and agriculture industry. EFE


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