IAEA Chief Grossi Hints at Disagreement among Experts on Fukushima Report

Hiro Komae/Pool via REUTERS
Rafael Mariano Grossi, Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency, speaks during a news conference at the damaged Fukushima nuclear power plant in Okuma, northeastern Japan, Wednesday, July 5, 2023.

TOKYO, July 7 (Reuters) – The head of the U.N.’s nuclear watchdog said on Friday that one or two of the team of international experts behind its report greenlighting Japan’s release of treated radioactive water from the crippled Fukushima plant may have expressed concerns.

Asked whether there was any disagreement among the experts behind the report, which included participants from 11 countries including China, the fiercest critic of Japan’s plan, Rafael Grossi told Reuters he had heard such reports.

“I heard that being said … but again, what we have published is scientifically impeccable,” Rafael said in an interview.

Grossi said none of the experts had raised concerns with him directly and he did not elaborate on how he had heard of the issue.

The international taskforce established by the IAEA in 2021 to review the safety of Japan’s plan to release some 500 Olympic size swimming pools worth of water from the plant wrecked by a tsunami more than a decade ago, also include members from Argentina, Australia, Canada, France, Marshall Islands, South Korea, Russia, Britain, the U.S. and Vietnam.

Beijing has blasted the IAEA’s report saying the watchdog should not be endorsing a plan which poses risks to marine life and human health, despite assurances from Japan and the IAEA that it will have a negligible environmental impact.

Grossi said the IAEA’s report did not amount to an endorsement of the plan and that Tokyo must take the final decision to release the water due to start later this summer.

“We do not endorse the plan or recommend this to be done. We say this plan is consistent with the standards,” Grossi said.

“We do not take sides. I’m not on the side of Japan or on the side of China or on the side of Korea. The standards apply to all the same way,” he added.