Fukushima treated water release in line with international safety standards, new IAEA report confirms

According to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Task Force conducting a safety review of Japan’s discharge of treated water into the sea at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station (FDNPS), a report issued on January 30 found the discharge to be consistent with international safety standards and reaffirmed the conclusions from the Agency’s comprehensive safety report issued on 4 July last year.

The IAEA’s comprehensive report – issued before the discharge began – found Japan’s plan for handling the treated water to be consistent with international safety standards and that the discharge as planned would have a negligible radiological impact to people and the environment. Japan started to discharge the water on 24 August 2023 and has so far completed the release of three batches, a total of 23 400 cubic meters of water.

The Task Force – made up of IAEA and independent experts from 11 different countries – was appointed by IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi in 2021 to review the safety of Japan’s plan for the water stored at the Fukushima Daiichi NPS against international safety standards. The standards constitute the worldwide reference for protecting the public and the environment from harmful effects of ionizing radiation.

During its site visit from 24 to 27 October 2023, the Task Force reviewed the facilities and equipment installed at FDNPS to discharge the ALPS (Advanced Liquid Processing System) treated water. It also met with Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), the operator of the plant, Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) and the Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA).

Based on their assessments made during the October site visit, the Task Force also concluded the following:

  • A robust regulatory infrastructure is in place in Japan to provide operational safety oversight of the discharge of ALPS treated water, and the Task Force was able to witness first-hand the onsite presence of the NRA and its activities in this regard.
  • Based on its observations at the FDNPS, the Task Force confirmed that the equipment and facilities are installed and operated in a manner that is consistent with Japan’s plan for the release of the water and the relevant international safety standards.
  • The Task Force reiterated the finding from the IAEA’s comprehensive report that optimization of protection – that is the process to determine the level of protection and safety for individuals – needs to be considered as part of the overall decommissioning of the FDNPS site. However, the Task Force fully recognized that the discharges are in the early stages and that further time and operational experience are required before progress can be made on this issue.

As part of its ongoing multiyear safety review, the IAEA will continue to conduct Task Force review missions. The Agency also maintains its continuous presence at the IAEA Fukushima Daiichi NPS Office to monitor and assess the ongoing water discharge.

Photo credit: iStock/ maroke

The best maritime news and insights delivered to you.

subscribe maritime fairtrade

Here's what you can expect from us:

  • Event offers and discounts
  • News & key insights of the maritime industry
  • Expert analysis and opinions on corruption and more