IAEA Approves Japan's Fukushima Water Release as Safe
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has completed its safety review, affirming that Japan's proposal to release treated water from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station into the sea is in accordance with IAEA Safety Standards.
Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi officially presented the report to Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida in Tokyo, emphasising that the discharged water would have a minimal radiological impact on both people and the environment.
The review process involved an IAEA Task Force consisting of experts from within the Agency and renowned nuclear safety specialists from eleven countries. Over the course of nearly two years, they meticulously evaluated Japan's plans against IAEA Safety Standards, which establish global guidelines for safeguarding human life and the environment while promoting a universally high level of safety.
Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi stated in the report's foreword, "Based on its comprehensive assessment, the IAEA has concluded that the approach and activities proposed by Japan for the discharge of ALPS treated water are consistent with relevant international safety standards." He further emphasised that the controlled and gradual discharges, as planned and assessed by TEPCO (Tokyo Electric Power Company), would pose negligible radiological risks.
Japan initially decided in April 2021 to discharge the stored water from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station into the sea and subsequently requested the IAEA conduct a thorough safety review of the plan. Director General Grossi accepted the request and committed the Agency's involvement before, during, and after the water discharges.
The water stored at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station has undergone treatment using the Advanced Liquid Processing System (ALPS), effectively eliminating almost all radioactivity except for tritium. Prior to the release, Japan will dilute the water to ensure tritium levels comply with regulatory standards.
As with nuclear safety decisions worldwide, the responsibility lies with the respective nation. In May, Japan's Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) approved the plan. The IAEA's review covered all critical safety aspects of the water discharge plan, encompassing the assessment of protection and safety, regulatory activities and processes, as well as independent sampling, data corroboration, and analysis.
Throughout the past two years, the Task Force conducted multiple review missions to Japan, published several technical reports, engaged in numerous consultations with the Japanese government and TEPCO, and scrutinised extensive technical and regulatory documentation. Task Force members also made site visits to the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station to assess the discharge preparations.
Director General Grossi acknowledged that the report marks a significant milestone in the IAEA's review process but emphasised that their work is far from over. He affirmed the IAEA's commitment to providing transparency to the international community, enabling stakeholders to rely on verified facts and scientific information throughout the entire process.
The IAEA will maintain its safety review during the discharge phase and ensure continuous on-site presence. Additionally, live online monitoring from the discharge facility will be provided on the IAEA's website. Throughout the extensive process that the Government of Japan and TEPCO have outlined, this strategy ensures the ongoing application of pertinent international safety standards.