IAEA approves Japan’s plan to evacuate treated water from Fukushima

The Japanese government’s plan to dump treated water from the crashed Fukushima nuclear power plant into the ocean “complies with international safety standards” and will have “negligible” impact, the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency said on Tuesday.

This evaluation, carried out within the framework of the final examination of the Japanese plan by the IAEA, was communicated during the visit to Tokyo of the head of the organization, Rafael Grossi, before the start of the planned discharge of water this summer.

“The IAEA has concluded that the approach and discharge activities of the treated water…are in compliance with relevant international safety standards,” according to the report. “The controlled and progressive dumping of treated water into the sea (…) would have an insignificant radiological impact on the population and the environment,” the text adds.

The triple earthquake-tsunami-nuclear accident of March 11, 2011 caused the meltdown of three reactors at the Fukushima power plant, in the most serious nuclear accident since Chernobyl. The catastrophe caused radioactive leaks that forced tens of thousands of people in the surrounding areas to urgently evacuate their homes.

Although cleanup and decommissioning of the plant is expected to take several decades, JJapan faces the immediate problem of storing around 1.33 million tons of rainwater, groundwater and injections needed to cool the nuclear reactor cores at the soon-to-be-saturated plant site.

The Japanese government plans to dump this water into the ocean after having treated it with a decontamination system that removes radioactive elements except for tritium, which will be diluted. The project had already been approved by the IAEA, but the Japanese government had declared that the discharge of the water would not start until after the “complete review” whose results were presented by Grossi on Tuesday.

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