A Task Force established by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to review the safety of a planned release of water now stored at Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi NPP held its first meeting on 28 September, attended by prominent independent experts from around the world.
Japan’s Government decided in April to discharge the treated water into the sea and requested the IAEA’s assistance to help ensure it takes place in line with international safety standards and without harming public health or the environment. Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi said the IAEA would support Japan before, during and after the release, which is planned to begin in 2023. The two sides agreed on the project’s Terms of Reference in July and, earlier in September, the IAEA sent a team to Japan to begin implementation of the multi-annual review.
The IAEA Task Force will oversee the Agency’s programme of technical assistance and review Japan’s plans and actions related to the water discharge. It comprises staff members from across the departments and laboratories of the IAEA, and 11 internationally recognised experts with diverse backgrounds from Argentina, Australia, Canada, China, France, the Marshall Islands, the Republic of Korea, the Russian Federation, the UK, the USA, and Viet Nam.
The Task Force members will work as part of an international team managed by the IAEA and reporting to its Director General.
Opening the three-day meeting at IAEA headquarters in Vienna, Director General Grossi emphasised the “enormous importance” of the work of the Task Force, which will demonstrate that the review is carried out in an objective, credible and science-based manner and help send a message of transparency and confidence. “I wanted to make sure that the Agency would not only have the expertise of the best and brightest but also the expertise of those from countries in the region,” Grossi said. During the meeting, the Task Force will discuss the content, structure, and schedule of the IAEA’s review in the coming years; the key technical elements that must be assessed; and will receive detailed technical briefings from the Japanese Government. The Task Force will conduct its first technical mission to Japan, including significant onsite activities at Fukushima Daiichi, in December.