Kishida, IAEA Chief to Meet over Nuclear Plant Water Release

International Atomic Energy Agency via Reuters
International Atomic Energy Agency Director General Rafael Grossi visits the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant and its surrounding area in the Zaporizhzhia region, Russian-controlled Ukraine, on June 15.

Arrangements are being made for Prime Minister Fumio Kishida to meet with International Atomic Energy Agency Director General Rafael Grossi on July 4 in Tokyo regarding the ocean discharge of treated water from the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, according to government sources.

During the envisaged meeting at the Prime Minister’s Office, Kishida is expected to receive from Grossi a comprehensive report, which will include the international nuclear watchdog’s assessment of the safety of the ocean discharge. Based on this report, the government is likely to decide the discharge would be carried out “around summer,” according to the sources.

The IAEA dispatched a task force to the Fukushima plant, which is managed by Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings, Inc., from late May to early June to finalize the comprehensive report. The IAEA has so far released six reports, in which it has described the method of the discharge and other matters as “appropriate,” and it is expected to maintain the same view in the final report.

According to TEPCO’s discharge plan, the treated water, from which most radioactive materials other than tritium have been removed, will be discharged from the top of an undersea tunnel that extends about 1 kilometer offshore from the plant, after being diluted with a large amount of seawater. TEPCO said the concentration of radioactive tritium in the released water will be less than 1/40th of the national discharge standard, which is set at 60,000 becquerels per liter.

China has criticized Japan over the discharge, although Beijing too has released water containing tritium into waters surrounding its nuclear power plants. According to the Economy, Trade and Industry Ministry, China’s Qinshan III Nuclear Power Plant released water containing about 143 trillion becquerels of tritium into the sea in 2020. The figure is about 6.5 times higher than the annual amount of tritium in the treated water to be released into the ocean from the Fukushima plant.

The government intends to gain the understanding of the international community by thoroughly explaining that the safety of the ocean discharge has been assured based on the IAEA’s scientific assessment.

Regarding the timing of the discharge, Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno said at a press conference on Tuesday, “We will make a decision after the government as a whole ensures the safety and confirms the status of efforts to counter harmful rumors.”