IAEA to oversee release of contaminated water from Fukushima No. 1

IAEA to oversee release of contaminated water from Fukushima No. 1

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) will play a central and "permanent" role in monitoring Japan’s discharge of waste water, which has been treated but is still contaminated with radioactive tritium, from the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant into the sea, Director General Rafael Grossi said.

He also said that the U.N. nuclear watchdog’s involvement, including dispatches of experts, would lend credibility and offer reassurance about environmental safety.

Japan’s insistence that the water does not pose a danger to health is disputed by neighboring countries as well as domestic fishing groups.

The Japanese government decided to allow the plant operator, Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc. (Tepco), to release into the sea more than 1 million tons of waste water that has accumulated at the complex since a massive earthquake and tsunami triggered a triple core meltdown in March 2011.

The water will be significantly diluted and released in small amounts, with the step-by-step operation set to start in about two years’ time, The Japan Times reported.

"The IAEA will be at the center of this activity," including offering technical support and monitoring the safe implementation of the plan, Grossi said.

He said the organization would be present “in a permanent way” by participating in the before, during and after phases of the water discharge project, which could last several years.

The director general, who visited Fukushima Prefecture last year, said he will return there before the discharge operation starts, and expressed hope that his trip would help reassure people concerned.

The Fukushima project to release "a very vast" amount of stored water is a "complex task," different from controlled water discharges by operating nuclear power plants around the world based on an agreed procedure, Grossi said, noting that it would be necessary to ascertain that all the water to be discharged had bee

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