International Atomic Energy Agency visits Japan to begin monitoring and review of Fukushima Daiichi water release
07 September 2021
International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) officials visited Japan in the week beginning September 6 to officially launch a multi-year review of the planned treated water release at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station. It is the Agency’s first mission as part of its review and monitoring assistance to support Japan before, during and after the discharge of treated water, which is expected to start in 2023.
The IAEA team headed by Lydie Evrard, IAEA Deputy Director General and Head of the Department of Nuclear Safety and Security, and also including Gustavo Caruso, coordinating Director for the IAEA project, are meeting with officials in Tokyo and will also travel to Fukushima Daiichi to discuss technical details with experts at the site and to observe key activities and locations of interest for the Agency’s review.
“The Agency is supporting Japan to ensure that the entire operation to discharge the water over the coming decades is conducted in a way that is consistent with international safety standards,” IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi said. “During this week’s mission, the team will discuss the timeline for our reviews, in particular at the site, to ensure the discharge is undertaken in a safe and transparent manner.”
Japan’s decision to release the treated water into the sea was announced in April this year. Shortly thereafter, Japan requested the assistance of the IAEA to ensure that the discharge takes place in line with the international safety standards, which constitute a global reference for protecting people and the environment and contribute to a harmonized high level of safety worldwide.
“The IAEA’s reviews will mobilize senior experts, with diverse backgrounds and extensive experience, to provide both national and international stakeholders with relevant and comprehensive information, in a timely manner, regarding the safety of the discharge of the water,” said Deputy Director General Evrard. “This will also contribute to transparency and as such, to building the confidence of the public regarding the safety of the water discharge”.
In Tokyo, the IAEA team will meet with senior officials of the Japan Nuclear Regulation Authority, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The Terms of Reference of the technical assistance to be provided by the IAEA in the coming years was agreed in July. Under the agreement, the IAEA will examine key safety elements of Japan’s discharge plan, including:
- The radiological characterization of the water to be discharged
- The safety related aspects of the water discharge process and its roadmap
- The assessment of the radiological environmental impact with regard to the protection of people and the environment
- The regulatory control including authorization, inspections and review and assessment
- The environmental monitoring associated with the discharge
An IAEA Taskforce, including internationally recognized experts from Member States, chaired by the IAEA coordinating Director, has been set up to oversee the programme of technical assistance and review the plans and actions related to the treated water discharge.
Since 2011, the Agency has provided technical assistance to further support Japan’s efforts at Fukushima Daiichi in areas such as radiation monitoring, remediation, waste management and decommissioning.