IAEA starts 2nd review of Fukushima water treatment process

Photo credit: Kyodo

An International Atomic Energy Agency task force on Tuesday began a review of the process in which radioactive water is treated at the Fukushima nuclear plant, the second it has conducted since Japan started releasing the water into the ocean last August, Kyodo reports.

The task force will inspect the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in northeastern Japan on Wednesday while the current release is underway, and hold discussions with the industry ministry, the plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc. and the Nuclear Regulation Authority during its mission through Friday.

In the opening session with Japanese officials at the Foreign Ministry, Gustavo Caruso, who heads the IAEA review delegation, said Japan's support for the IAEA review demonstrates its strong commitment to ensuring the project is completed safely and transparently.

"This independent, objective and science-based approach will help build confidence to the people in Japan and beyond," he said, adding the IAEA will communicate the main outcomes later this week and then later issue its second report.

TEPCO is discharging the water in batches after it is treated through an advanced liquid processing system, or ALPS, to remove most of the contaminants other than the relatively nontoxic tritium, with the fifth release commencing last week.

IAEA experts stationed at the organization's Fukushima office have confirmed the tritium concentration in the ongoing water release, once diluted with seawater, is far below the country's upper regulatory limit of 1,500 becquerels per liter.

The previous four batches, totaling about 31,200 tons, were also confirmed by the IAEA to have tritium concentrations far below Japan's recommended limit.

The water discharge from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, hit by core meltdowns triggered by the devastating earthquake and tsunami in 2011, faced opposition from China, Russia and local fishermen.

China has maintained a blanket import ban on all seafood products from Japan in response to the discharges.

Data collected from the fifth water release will be corroborated using interlaboratory comparisons involving both IAEA labs and independent third-party labs from China, South Korea, Switzerland, and the United States that are members of the network of Analytical Laboratories for the Measurement of Environmental Radioactivity, according to the agency.

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