IAEA-led International Team Collects Samples Off Fukushima Coast; Chinese Entity Participating in Collection for First Time

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Officials from the International Atomic Energy Agency and other entities examine marine products that will be used as test samples, in Iwaki, Fukushima Prefecture, on Thursday.

Officials from the International Atomic Energy Agency and three foreign entities collected samples of marine products Thursday that will be analyzed to monitor the impact of the release of treated water from the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant into the Pacific Ocean.

Officials from institutes in China, South Korea and Canada participated in the collection of samples taken from waters off the Fukushima Prefecture coast. Samples of seawater and other substances have been taken in the area since 2014 to examine the impact of the March 2011 accident at the nuclear plant, but this is the first time a Chinese entity has participated.

A total of 12 officials visited Hisanohama Port in Iwaki and were given samples of six kinds of fish — including flounder, horse mackerel and puffer fish — caught by local fishermen. These samples will be sent to the respective entities in each country and the concentrations of radioactive substances such as tritium and cesium inside them will be measured.

The collection and processing of the samples started Monday and will continue for a week. The IAEA is jointly conducting this process with officials from bodies including the Environment Ministry, Fisheries Agency, Nuclear Regulation Authority and Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings, Inc., which operates the nuclear plant.

To boost the credibility of this monitoring and analysis, the IAEA selected the Third Institute of Oceanography from China’s Natural Resources Ministry, Korea Institute of Nuclear Safety and Health Canada to participate.

Each of these entities will also measure, among other things, the concentrations of radioactive substances in samples of seawater and marine sediment taken from near the nuclear plant. The IAEA will release the collated data.

“We want to boost the transparency of the monitoring process by having third parties analyze and assess samples,” an official of the Fisheries Agency said. “We hope people will eat fish with peace of mind.”