China to Join IAEA Team to Sample, Analyze Fukushima Treated Water for First Time

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
A Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings, Inc. official explains the functions of a water sampling device for testing the tritium concentration in treated water in Fukushima in August.

Experts from China will join a team from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to sample and analyze seawater and fishery products from the area around the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, the agency has said

It will be the first time for China to work on the team since research began in 2014. The IAEA aims to make its assessments of the seawater more objective by including China, which opposes the release of radioactive materials without any scientific basis, observers said.

The current joint research will be conducted from Monday to Oct. 23, the IAEA said Tuesday.

Experts appointed by the IAEA from laboratories in South Korea and Canada as well as the Chinese Natural Resource Ministry’s Third Institute of Oceanography are to participate as third parties in the sampling and analysis.

The team will collect seawater and fish samples from the area around the plant, and analyze them at analytical laboratories in each country to measure radioactivity levels and other parameters.

The IAEA will compile the data and publish it in a report.

“I hope that the Chinese institution’s analysis will confirm the scientific safety of the treated water,” said Nuclear Regulation Authority Chairman Shinsuke Yamanaka at a press conference Wednesday.

China halted imports of all seafood products from Japan, objecting to the discharge of treated water into the ocean.

China has called for the establishment of a long-term effective international mechanism to monitor the safety of treated water discharged into the sea, but has not provided specific details.

Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Wang Wenbin reiterated Beijing’s line at a regular press conference on Wednesday. The sampling and analysis are “again carried out by the IAEA Secretariat under its bilateral arrangement with Japan and therefore fall short of an international monitoring arrangement with the full and substantive participation of all stakeholders that will stay effective for the long haul,” he said.