A Task Force established by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to review the safety of a planned release of water now stored at Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant held its first meeting on Tuesday, with prominent independent experts from around the world participating as members.
The Government of Japan decided in April to discharge the treated water into the sea and requested the IAEA’s assistance to help ensure it takes place in line with international safety standards and without harming public health or the environment. Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi said the IAEA would support Japan before, during and after the release, which is planned to begin in 2023. The two sides agreed on the project’s Terms of Reference in July and, earlier in September, the IAEA sent a team to Japan to begin implementation of the multi-annual review.
The Task Force set up under the authority of the IAEA will oversee the Agency’s programme of technical assistance and review Japan’s plans and actions related to the water discharge.
It consists of staff members from across the departments and laboratories of the IAEA, and eleven internationally recognized experts with diverse backgrounds from Argentina, Australia, Canada, China, France, the Marshall Islands, the Republic of Korea, the Russian Federation, the United Kingdom, the United States, and Viet Nam.
The Task Force members will not work in a national capacity but as part of an international team managed by the IAEA and reporting to its Director General.
Opening the three-day meeting at IAEA headquarters in Vienna, Director General Grossi emphasized the “enormous importance” of the work of the Task Force, saying its members were among the world’s leading scientists and experts in the areas of nuclear safety and radiation protection.
The Task Force will demonstrate that the review is carried out in an objective, credible and science-based manner and help send a message of transparency and confidence to people in Japan and beyond.
“I wanted to make sure that the Agency would not only have the expertise of the best and brightest but also the expertise of those from countries in the region,” the Director General told the inaugural Task Force meeting.
During this week’s meeting, the Task Force will discuss the content, structure, and schedule of the IAEA’s review in the coming years; the key technical elements that must be assessed; and will receive detailed technical briefings from the Government of Japan.
The Task Force will conduct its first technical mission to Japan, including significant onsite activities at Fukushima Daiichi, in December.
The IAEA has provided technical assistance to support Japan’s efforts at Fukushima Daiichi in areas such as radiation monitoring, remediation, waste management and decommissioning since the 2011 accident.