Monday, June 27, 2022

UN nuclear agency chief: Fukushima transparency important

TOKYO ( Associated Press) — The head of the International Atomic Energy Agency stressed the importance of transparency after visiting the tsunami-ravaged Fukushima nuclear power plant on Friday, where he witnessed preparations to release treated radioactive wastewater, which has fueled further damage inside Japan. Outside concerns have prompted. ,

IAEA Director-General Rafael Grossi, who is assisting Japan’s plan to begin releasing wastewater into the ocean next year, said his agency would help maintain transparency throughout the process.

Grossi is meeting with officials to discuss the plan, which has received international attention. On Thursday, he visited the Fukushima Daiichi plant, where he observed its commissioning and preparedness for the discharge of wastewater.

Japan’s government says disposal of water stored in hundreds of large tanks is necessary to keep the plant clean and moving forward.

Grossi touched on concerns raised in Japan and neighboring countries about potential health hazards from the release of wastewater, including tritium, a by-product of nuclear power generation that is inseparable from water and a potential carcinogen at high levels.

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“I proceed by the principle that every genuinely honest concern should be taken seriously and that every effort should be made to address it,” he said. “For these countries, for any country, they have every right to demand that international standards be followed, nothing more, nothing less.”

Grossi stressed that the role of the IAEA is to ensure that the measures taken at the plant are fully in line with the international standards that have been accepted by those expressing concerns. China and South Korea have strongly opposed the plan.

Local fishing communities say the release will damage the reputation of their catch because the wastewater also contains other isotopes such as cesium and strontium, which will fall below the legal limit, but not zero.

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Japan’s government has repeatedly faced public criticism for downplaying any risk from wastewater. Last year, the reconstruction agency had to remove a video that depicted Tritium as a cute cartoon character floating in a glass of water.

Japan’s nuclear regulator this week approved a plan to release water by the plant’s operator, Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings, saying radiation risks to the environment were minimal.

A major earthquake and tsunami in 2011 destroyed the cooling system of the Fukushima plant, melting three reactor cores and releasing large amounts of radiation. Water being used to cool the damaged reactor core, which remains highly radioactive, has since leaked into the reactor basement, where it is contained, collected and stored in tanks.

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