A team of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has reached Japan for discussions on its plan to dump treated nuclear waste from the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant into the sea.
The IAEA task force met officials from Japan’s Economy Ministry, Trade and Industry Ministry, Foreign Ministry, and the company in charge of the plant’s operations, Kyodo News reported on Monday.
“The task force will conduct the review in an objective, credible, and science-based manner and help send a message of transparency and confidence to the people in Japan and beyond,” said Gustavo Caruso, the director and coordinator at the IAEA’s Department of Nuclear Safety and Security.
In a statement released ahead of the trip, the IAEA said the team will stay until Friday to hold technical discussions and visit the site of the Fukushima plant.
Japan announced last April that it plans to discharge the nuclear waste into the sea over two years, triggering massive criticism from China, South Korea, North Korea, the island nation of Taiwan, and international bodies, including the UN.
The US, however, has backed Japan’s proposal, which came after years of talks on how to get rid of more than 1 million tons of water accumulated at the Fukushima nuclear complex since the meltdown triggered by a massive earthquake and tsunami in March 2011.
Japan wants the IAEA to conduct a “strict and transparent evaluation,” said Keiichi Yumoto, the country’s director-general for nuclear accident disaster response at the Industry Ministry.
“It is crucial to receive the evaluation from the objective international body, as there are safety concerns among the public over the planned discharge of treated water.”
Rafael Mariano Grossi, the director-general of the IAEA, said the agency wants to “support Japan before, during and after the release of the water,” said the Kyodo News report.
According to the IAEA, the task force sent to Japan includes staff from various departments and laboratories, as well as 11 independent and internationally recognized experts from Argentina, Australia, Canada, China, France, the Marshall Islands, South Korea, Russia, UK, US, and Vietnam.