IAEA head defends green light for Fukushima water release

Rafael Grossi says the IAEA approval for Japan's plan to release water from the Fukushima nuclear plant is "scientifically impeccable." But neighboring countries still have concerns

On Friday South Korea also announced its support for Japan's plan (Photo: DW)
On Friday South Korea also announced its support for Japan's plan (Photo: DW)


There could be no transboundary effect from Japan's plan to release treated radioactive water into the ocean, the head of the United Nations' nuclear watchdog said Friday.

Rafael Grossi was speaking after the International Atomic Energy Agency earlier this week greenlit Japan's plan to release wastewater collected since the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster into the ocean.

"Well, the 'transboundary-ness' if the word exists in English, the transboundary nature must be addressed. Our opinion is that given the degree, the dilution degree, and the dispersion, it could be the case that there is no transboundary effect at all," he said.

Grossi told the Reuters news agency in a separate interview that while one or two of the team of international experts behind the report may have had concerns none raised their concerns with him directly.

"I heard that being said ... but again, what we have published is scientifically impeccable," Rafael said

Japan's nuclear regulator on Friday granted approval on Friday for utility TEPCO to start releasing the radioactive water.

South Korea conducted own assessment

On Friday South Korea also announced its support for Japan's plan, saying it meets global safety standards.

"Based on a review of the treatment plan of contaminated water presented by Japan, we have confirmed concentration of radioactive material meets standards for ocean discharge," South Korea's minister in the Office for Government Policy Coordination, Bang Moon-kyu, told a briefing in Seoul.

South Korea's assessment was based on independent reviews of Japan's plan by two of its nuclear watchdog agencies, expert site visits, and athereport from the IAEA, which indicated that the water would have a "negligible radiological impact to people and the environment."

Despite the assent for the plan, Bang said a South Korean ban on food and seafood products from the Fukushima region would remain in place.

Opposition Democratic Party leader Lee Jae-myung argued that the government should oppose the plan and bring the case to the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea.

Grossi was scheduled to visit South Korea for three days to explain the agency's findings.

He would meet with Foreign Minister Park Jin and Yoo, the head of the main nuclear regulatory body responsible for assessing Japan's plan.

China tightens scrutiny of Japanese food

China will tighten its scrutiny on food from Japan and maintain curbs on some Japanese imports, Beijing said on Friday.

China had expressed opposition to the action, and said it will maintain bans on the import of food from 10 Japanese prefectures for safety reasons.

"The Japanese side still has many problems in the legitimacy of sea discharge, the reliability of purification equipment and the perfection of monitoring programmes," Chinese customs said.

The customs department added it will continuously strengthen the detection and monitoring of radioactive substances to ensure the safety of food imported from Japan.

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