Fukushima-Daiichi / IAEA Carries Out Review Of Regulatory Aspects Of Water Discharge Plans

By David Dalton
25 March 2022

Agency task force is reviewing safety aspects of project
IAEA Carries Out Review Of Regulatory Aspects Of Water Discharge Plans
The water has been treated through a filtration process before being stored in tanks. Courtesy Dean Calma/IAEA.
An International Atomic Energy Agency task force reviewing the safety of Japan’s planned discharge of treated water stored at the Fukushima-Daiichi nuclear power station has been in Tokyo to discuss the regulatory aspects of the plan.

The task force met officials from the Nuclear Regulation Authority in Tokyo to discuss regulatory responsibilities, the authorisation process, preparations for environmental radiation monitoring and the NRA’s plans to consult with and involve the public.

In April 2021 Japan announced its policy to gradually discharge more than 1.25 million cubic metres of treated water into the sea, subject to approval from the NRA, an independent regulatory body.

It asked for the IAEA’s assistance to help ensure the project’s implementation. Japanese authorities said there was no practical alternative to releasing the water as storage space ran out. They said there was no risk to human health and that operating nuclear plants around the world release similar water every day.

In part used to cool melted nuclear fuel, the water has been treated through a filtration process known as advanced liquid processing system Alps to reduce the radioactivity before being stored in tanks.

Space for the tanks is running out and the long-term management of the treated water is necessary to allow for the further decommissioning of the Fukushima-Daiichi station.

Five disposal methods for the water were being considered by the government: controlled discharge into the sea, ground injection, discharge as steam, discharge as hydrogen, and solidification for underground burial.

Japan intends to release the water with levels of tritium – the only radionuclide that cannot be removed through this treatment – well below national regulatory limits and World Health Organisation standards for drinking water.

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