10 September 2013
The annual meeting to review the progress of a technical cooperation (TC) project “Marine Benchmark Study on the Possible Impact of the Fukushima Radioactive Releases in the Asia-Pacific Region”, has taken place in Palau from 12 to 16 August 2013. The meeting was organised by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in collaboration with the Ministry of State, the Palau International Coral Reef Center, and the Environ¬men¬tal Quality Protection Board (EQPB) of Palau.
The TC project was launched in 2011 under the Regional Cooperative Agreement (RCA) in response to the Fukushima accident and its potential consequences. The project aims to enhance national capacities in marine radioactive monitoring and to enable RCA Member States to evaluate the extent and the possible impact of the releases of radioactive effluents from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant into the marine environment. Australia, Japan, New Zealand, Republic of Korea and the USA have been supporting the project through extra-budgetary contributions.
During the meeting, National Project Coordinators (NPCs) from twenty-two countries in the Asia and Pacific Region presented the achievements and progress made in marine environment monitoring as a result of their respective country plans. Participating countries included Australia, Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, Cook Islands, Fiji, India, Indonesia, Japan, Kiribati, Republic of Korea, Malaysia, Marshall Islands, Myanmar, New Zealand, Pakistan, Palau, Philippines, Solomon Islands, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Vietnam. Two IAEA experts attended the meeting providing technical and administrative guidance.
Countries presented the current status of their national activities in marine environment monitoring as well as the results of their monitoring programmes. Several countries reported advances in technical capabilities following their participation in the regional training courses organized through the project and the development of national facilities.
Participants also reviewed and updated the project work plan, reflecting new developments at national and regional levels. A follow-up action plan, including the milestones with which each country has to comply with regards to monitoring of radioactive effluents in marine waters, was also developed.
Dr Yimnang Golbuu of the Palau International Coral Reef Center, who carried out the first monitoring of radionuclides in seawater under the project in April 2011, presented his work and provided a summary of the initial results, which indicate that artificial radioactive substances from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident have not reached Palau.
The meeting also acknowledged excellent partnerships and collaboration with several related international initiatives, which have led to advances in radiological dose modelling and risk analysis for marine organisms. Such initiatives include the participation of the Lead Country (Australia) in the United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation (UNSCEAR), the IAEA Modelling and Data for Radiological Impact Assessments Programme (MODARIA) and the International Commission on Radiological Protection (ICRP).
Collaborative activities under this project in the Asia-Pacific region will help to obtain and manage more environmental data for the common Asia-Pacific Marine Radioactivity Database (ASPAMARD), which is operated in the Philippines with the IAEA’s support. ASPAMARD serves as a valuable tool for future assessments of the status of the marine environment with regard to radioactive substances and helps countries to gain a more complete picture of the present and future distribution of radioactive substances in the region.