IAEA Team Ends 1st Safety Inspection since Release of Fukushima Treated Water


A group of experts from the International Atomic Energy Agency on Friday ended its onsite safety inspection of treated water discharged into the ocean from the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, with plans to compile a report by the end of this year.

The team, which is the first dispatched by the IAEA since the first treated water release in August, consisted of experts from 11 countries, including China and Russia which expressed opposition to the water discharge.

The visiting scientists were tasked with confirming that the released water complies with international safety standards set by the IAEA.

“Information disseminated from the international nuclear energy organization is extremely important to increase transparency [in the water discharge],” an Economy, Trade and Industry Ministry official said Friday following the IAEA inspection. “The Japanese government intends to continue responding to this matter thoroughly.”

IAEA Deputy Director General Lydie Evrard said on Tuesday, the first day of the mission, that the nuclear energy watchdog hopes to build trust inside and out of Japan in the safety of the treated water through independent monitoring based on objective and scientific evidence, and then making the results public.

The team’s members exchanged views with officials from plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings, Inc. (TEPCO); the Economy, Trade and Industry Ministry; the Nuclear Regulation Authority and other entities regarding the results of the first two rounds of water discharge.

They also confirmed the results of monitoring seawater and marine samples from the vicinity of the plant. On Wednesday, the team visited the plant to see first hand the equipment used for discharging the treated water.

The IAEA first began reviewing Japan’s water discharge plan in July 2021, and released a comprehensive report in July this year that stated that the plan is “consistent with international safety standards.”

The agency has stationed staff in an office set up at the plant to keep tabs on the water release. It also set up a dedicated link on its website for the Fukushima discharge to disseminate relevant information and data, such as the amount of treated water discharged. The agency said the link has been accessed more than 600,000 times so far.

TEPCO plans to discharge a total of 31,200 tons of treated water, or about 2% of the amount stored at the plant, in four batches this fiscal year. The first two batches were carried out as scheduled from Aug. 24 to Sept. 11 and from Oct. 5 to 23. The third batch is slated to start Nov. 2.