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IAEA announces shipment of samples of treated radioactive water from Fukushima to Europe for analysis

Published:

February 18, 2022 10:49 p.m. GMT

Japan plans to dump more than a million tons of water from the nuclear power plant damaged in the 2011 earthquake in the Pacific Ocean.

Some 50 liters of treated radioactive water from the damaged Fukushima nuclear power plant in Japan will be sent for analysis to International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) laboratories in Austria and Monaco, reported the agency.

A group of IAEA experts is in Japan to study the plans of the Japanese government and Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO), operator of the plant, to discharge into the Pacific Ocean more than a million tons of treated radioactive water, in order to determine whether the project complies with international safety standards. Liquid release is expected to begin in 2023 and it would take decades to complete.

The agency said it will release a full report with the findings of its mission before the water release begins. “As a scientific and technical organization, we will be fully transparent and independent in our reviews and reports. The world will know what is happening at all times,” said IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi.

Tritium in radioactive treated water

Since earthquake and tsunami March 2011 damaged Fukushima’s reactors, causing contamination to its cooling system which began to leak, water from the nuclear power plant was “treated and purified“, to then be stored in tanks, detailed the international organization. It is expected that the storage capacity of these containers will reach its limit in the fall of this year.

However, the IAEA recalled that the tritium cannot be removed of water with current treatment methods, although its levels in storage tanks are “well below the limits” of Japanese and World Health Organization regulatory standards for the drink water.

In small amounts, tritium is not harmful. However, some scientists insist that the long-term impact is unknown on marine life due to exposure to these radioactive elements at low doses, since these are quite large volumes of water.

For Tokyo, throwing water into the sea is the “most realistic” and this is “inevitable to achieve the recovery of Fukushima”. But this project faces strong opposition from neighboring countries such as Russia, China and, in particular, South Korea.

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