IAEA team in Japan to review Fukushima water release plan

Responsible Seafood Advocate

Fukushima water release to start within months, but IAEA experts to review final plan first

Fukushima water release
The Fukushima water release is set to start in a few months, but with growing concerns, IAEA experts will review Japan’s final plan first. Photo by Bonnie Waycott.

An International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) team has arrived in Tokyo for a final review before Japan begins releasing treated radioactive water into the sea from the Fukushima nuclear plant – a plan that has been strongly opposed by local fishing communities and neighboring countries.

The team, which includes experts from 11 countries, will meet with officials from the government and the plant operator, Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings, and visit the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant during their five-day visit, according to a report from the Associated Press News.

Japanese officials announced plans in April 2021 to gradually release the wastewater following further treatment and dilution to what some experts say are safe levels. The water will be treated to legally releasable levels and further diluted with large amounts of seawater. It will be gradually released into the ocean over decades through an undersea tunnel, which they claim is harmless to people and marine life.

The Fukushima water release is expected to start within a few months after safety checks by Japanese nuclear regulators of the newly constructed water discharge facility and a final report by IAEA is expected in late June.

However, the Fukushima water release plan has faced opposition from local fishing communities concerned about safety and reputational damage. Nearby countries, including South Korea, China and Pacific Island nations, have also raised safety concerns. Furthermore, some scientists say the impact of long-term, low-dose exposure to radionuclides is unknown and the release should be delayed.

Japanese officials say the water stored in the tanks needs to be removed to prevent accidental leaks in case another disaster strikes and to make room for the plant’s decommissioning. However, Japan is now working with IAEA to ensure the Fukushima water release plan meets international safety standards and to better understand other countries’ perspectives.

‘It’s been done for decades’ – How the upcoming Fukushima water release could impact Japan’s fishing industry

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