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Press Release 2011/21

IAEA Remediation Mission to Japan Concludes

14 October 2011 | A team of international experts today completed a preliminary assessment of the strategy and plans being considered by the Japanese authorities to remediate the areas off-site the Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power Plant reported to have elevated levels of radiation.

The IAEA dispatched the mission to Japan on 7 October following a request from the country's Government. The mission, comprising 12 international and IAEA experts from several countries, visited numerous locations in the Fukushima Prefecture and conducted meetings in Tokyo and Fukushima with Japanese officials from several Ministries and institutions.

"The meetings held and visits made by the team over the last eight days gave us a first-hand appreciation of the extraordinary efforts and dedication on the part of Japanese people in their effort to remediate the areas affected by elevated levels of radiation in the Fukushima Prefecture," says Mr. Juan Carlos Lentijo, Team Leader and General Director for Radiation Protection at Spain's nuclear regulatory authority. "As Japan continues its current remediation efforts, it is our belief that this work will bring relief to the populations who are affected by the consequences of the nuclear accident at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant."

In a Preliminary Summary Report delivered to Japanese authorities today, the team prepared a set of conclusions including, though not limited to, the following:

  • Japan developed an efficient program for remediation - allocating the necessary legal, financial and technological resources to bring relief to the people affected by the accident, with priority being given to children. The Team was impressed with the strong commitment to the remediation effort from all institutions and parties involved, including the public;
  • Japan has also taken practical measures to inform the public and involve residents and local institutions in the process of defining its remediation strategy;
  • Japan is advised to avoid classifying removed materials that do not warrant special radiation protection measures as "radioactive waste";
  • Japan is advised to consider explaining to the public the importance of focusing on radiation doses that may actually be received by people rather than on data indicating contamination levels; and
  • Japan is encouraged to continue its remediation efforts. In doing so, Japan is encouraged to take into account the advice provided by the Mission. The IAEA stands ready to support Japan as it considers new and appropriate criteria for such activities.

The authorities and local residents in Japan fully assisted the IAEA international team in its endeavor to conclude its mission successfully.

"The team also appreciates the openness with which our discussions were conducted and the high level of cooperation and access we were granted by Japan," says Mr. Lentijo. "This was an invaluable opportunity for us to learn from this important decontamination initiative. We would like to continue our support to Japan in this very challenging task. We look forward to sharing our findings with the international community."

The final report of the mission will be presented to the Government of Japan in the next month.

Background

The accident at the Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power Plant has led to elevated levels of radiation over large areas. The Government of Japan has been formulating a strategy and plans to implement countermeasures to remediate these areas.

The IAEA organized an International Fact Finding Expert Mission of the Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power Plant Accident Following tThe Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami, which took place between 24 May and 2 June 2011.

The mission concluded today is a follow-up to the fact-finding mission held earlier in the year and an essential component of the IAEA's Nuclear Safety Action Plan, approved by the IAEA Board of Governors on 13 September and endorsed by all 151 Member States at the recent IAEA General Conference in September 2011. The Action Plan defines a programme of work to strengthen the global nuclear safety framework.

The international expert mission to Japan on environmental remediation was held between 7 and 15 October 2011.