TOKYO (AP) The head of the International Atomic Energy Agency stressed the importance of transparency on Friday following a visit to the tsunami-destroyed Fukushima nuclear power plant, where he observed preparations for the release of radioactive wastewater that has caused concern inside and outside the country.
Rafael Grossi, director general of the IAEA, who is assisting the Japanese plan to launch the release of sewage into the sea next year, said his agency will help maintain transparency throughout the process.
Grossi is meeting with officials to discuss the plan, which has received international attention. On Thursday he visited the Fukushima Daiichi plant, where he observed its ongoing dismantling and preparations for the sewage discharge.
The Japanese government says water disposal, stored in hundreds of large reservoirs, is necessary for the cleaning and dismantling of the plants to move forward.
Grossi addresses ongoing concerns in Japan and neighboring countries about the potential health risks from wastewater discharge, which includes tritium, a byproduct of nuclear energy production that is inseparable from water, and a potential carcinogen at high levels. .
I come from the principle that any serious honest concern should be taken seriously and every effort should be made to address it, he said. For these countries, every state, what they have the right to demand is to respect international standards, nothing more, nothing less.
Grossi stressed that the IAEA’s role is to ensure that the measures taken at the plant are fully in line with international standards that have been accepted by those who express concerns. China and South Korea have vehemently opposed the plan.
Local fishing communities say the release will damage their catch reputation because the wastewater also contains other isotopes like cesium and strontium, which will be greatly reduced below the legal limits but not to zero.
The Japanese government has faced constant public criticism for minimizing any risk from sewage. Last year, the reconstruction agency had to remove a video portraying tritium as a delightful cartoon character floating in a glass of water.
The Japanese nuclear regulator this week approved a plan by plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings to release the water, saying the radiation risks to the environment were minimal.
A massive earthquake and tsunami in 2011 destroyed the cooling systems of the Fukushima plant, causing the three reactor cores to melt and emit large amounts of radiation. The water used to cool the damaged reactor cores, which remain highly radioactive, has since leaked into the reactor cellars, where it is stored, collected and stored in tanks.
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