The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has said that a team of experts will visit Japan to observe the collection and treatment of marine samples from the sea near the Fukushima Daiichi NPP. The mission aims to verify the quality of sample collection procedures and analytical methods used by Japanese laboratories performing marine environmental radioactivity monitoring.

The IAEA team will observe the collection of seawater, marine sediment and fish samples from coastal waters in the vicinity of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station during the twelfth such mission carried out under a project initiated in 2014 to support the quality assurance of radioactivity data collection and analysis by Japanese laboratories. 

In parallel, the mission – taking place in the period from 7-14 November – will include the collection of additional samples to be used for the Agency’s independent analyses to corroborate Japanese measurement results as part of its safety review of Japan’s preparations for the discharge of ALPS-treated water that is currently stored at the Fukushima Daiichi site.

Two staff from the IAEA Environment Laboratories in Monaco, as well as two experts from laboratories in Finland and the Republic of Korea – members of the network of Analytical Laboratories for the Measurement of Environmental Radioactivity – will collect the samples. The team will also observe sampling of fish from fish markets in the Fukushima Prefecture. All samples will be analysed for radioactivity as part of an inter-laboratory comparison study.

The samples collected are provided to the laboratories participating in the comparison study. The results of the analyses will be submitted to the IAEA to assess the statistical significance of differences in the values, and to publish the results.

The IAEA has been collecting marine samples since 2014 as an ongoing follow-up activity to recommendations made on marine monitoring in a 2014 report by the IAEA International Peer Review Mission on Mid- and Long-Term Roadmap towards the Decommissioning of TEPCO's Fukushima Daiichi NPS Units 1-4, which reviewed Japan's efforts to plan and implement the decommissioning of the plant. 

Image: The Fukushima Daiichi site (courtesy of TEPCO)