IAEA sees only limited impact of Fukushima water release

BERLIN (Jiji Press) — An International Atomic Energy Agency team Friday said it sees only a limited impact on humans of the planned release of treated radioactive water from Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc.’s crippled power plant into the ocean.

Chemical substances in the treated water are “far below the Japanese regulatory limits,” said the first report by the IAEA task force reviewing Japan’s plans to discharge the water from the meltdown-stricken Fukushima No. 1 power plant into the Pacific. But the team stopped short of reaching a conclusion on the safety of the release. The team plans to continue its assessment and announce its final judgment before TEPCO starts releasing the water.

The task force visited Japan in February, inspecting the power plant and interviewing TEPCO and government officials. The team will release a new report in two months, each time it conducts fresh research.

TEPCO expects that its storage tanks for treated water will reach full capacity by around summer or autumn 2023.

At TEPCO, radioactive water keeps increasing due to its operations to cool damaged reactors and inflows of rainwater and groundwater into damaged buildings.

Before storing the water, the company treats it with water cleanup equipment to remove most of the radioactive substances. The treated water, which still includes tritium, is set to be released into the ocean after being diluted.

In the report, the task force said that its review of the water release plans focuses on eight points including radiological environmental impact assessment, water quality monitoring and involvement of interested parties.

In a statement issued Friday, industry minister Koichi Hagiuda said the government will continue its efforts to “ensure the safety of handling … treated water and to foster understanding both in Japan and abroad.”