The IAEA is committed to independently monitor the planned discharge of treated water into the sea at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant and will provide regular assessments to the Japanese government and the international community, Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi told Prime Minister Fumio Kishida in Tokyo today.
The meeting took place following Mr Grossi’s visit to Fukushima Daiichi yesterday, as part of a three-day visit to Japan. Mr Grossi observed the preparations for the discharge of treated water and noted the “remarkable progress on decommissioning at Fukushima Daiichi since my last visit two years ago.”
The IAEA is reviewing Japan’s policy to discharge treated water from Fukushima Daiichi against relevant international safety standards.
“The continued scientific review and objective review by the IAEA regarding the discharge into the ocean is an extremely significant effort in order to gain an understanding for the public, both at home and abroad,” Mr Kishida said at a press conference following the meeting. “Japan intends to continue to respond with utmost transparency; we look forward to continue working with the IAEA.”
In February this year, the IAEA Task Force completed a review mission to Japan’s Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), the operator of Fukushima Daiichi, and the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI). “Japan has made significant progress in its preparations, and the IAEA Task Force is satisfied that TEPCO and METI have identified the appropriate next steps for the water discharge scheduled for 2023,” Mr Grossi said. “The IAEA is committed to providing a thorough safety review before, during and after the release of treated water and to carrying out our work in an objective and transparent manner.”
The IAEA Task Force released its first report in April, summarizing the overall progress of the IAEA’s safety review of TEPCO’s preparations for the proposed water discharge. The report noted technical areas where additional discussions and information are warranted, such as the radiological characterization of the treated water and the consideration of abnormal events and external hazards. The treated water that is proposed for discharge into the sea is the result of a filtration process known as Advanced Liquid Processing System (ALPS). ALPS uses a series of chemical reactions to remove most radionuclides from contaminated water. The Task Force also noted the importance of identifying the inventories of radionuclides in ALPS-treated water and the amounts that will be discharged to the environment.
“Looking ahead, the IAEA has many more activities planned – additional missions, independent sampling and analysis of the treated water and environmental samples to corroborate data from Japan, and the evaluation of workers’ radiation exposure on site,” Mr Grossi said. A second mission of the Task Force, which includes both IAEA staff and independent, internationally recognized experts from various countries, is planned for the second half of 2022. This mission will follow up on TEPCO and METI’s progress on technical topics, as well as review the revised radiological environmental impact assessment.
In addition to meeting with Prime Minister Kishida on Friday, Mr Grossi met Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi – who announced pledges of €2 million towards nuclear safety and security in Ukraine and €1 million for the Rays of Hope initiative to tackle the global inequity in access to cancer care – Minister of State for Science and Technology Policy Takayuki Kobayashi and Toyoshi Fuketa, Chairman of the Nuclear Regulation Authority. On Thursday, Mr Grossi met with METI Minister Koichi Hagiuda, who pledged a contribution of €1 million towards the Marie Slodowska-Curie Fellowship Programme, a flagship IAEA initiative to increase the representation of women in the nuclear field.
Earlier this week, Mr Grossi met with Japanese companies, inviting them to support Rays of Hope.