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Off-site Environmental Remediation in Fukushima Continuing

Remediation of forests around residential areas, farm and public spaces in Fukushima Prefecture. (Photo: IAEA, 2013)

Japan’s Ministry of the Environment (MOE) updated the status of on-going environmental remediation activities in the areas affected by the accident at TEPCO’s Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station in 2011.

The update was the result of the 2nd IAEA-MOE Consultancy Meeting (Experts’ Visit) on Environmental Remediation of Off-Site Areas after the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station Accident, hosted by the MOE in Tokyo and Fukushima from 14 to 18 November 2016. The main objective of the meeting was to provide a forum for discussion for the benefit of Japanese authorities from inputs provided by IAEA staff and experts in order to enhance the ongoing remediation projects. Japanese authorities also briefed the IAEA on the progress made so that the information can be shared with the international community.

Continued progress with the remediation of off-site areas affected by the accident was observed. Japanese authorities said they expected the completion of the full-scale decontamination project in the Special Decontamination Area (SDA) towards the end of March 2017. They highlighted this milestone as one of the critical steps paving the way to broader lifting of the evacuation order. They added that some municipalities in the SDA had already lifted evacuation orders.

During the meeting, the IAEA and Japanese teams discussed the following topics:

  • Current status of environmental remediation in and around Fukushima Prefecture
  • Volume reduction of the waste materials resulting from environmental remediation
  • Knowledge management on environmental remediation
  • Integration of the overall remediation efforts in the recovery actions
  • Development of waste estimate tool (aimed at predicting the amount of waste to be generated with decontamination works after a radiological emergency or nuclear accident)

Visits to specific locations and ongoing projects were conducted to get a better understanding of the situation. These included visits to the Fukushima Prefectural Government, Date City, the Fukushima Prefectural Centre for Environmental Creation in Miharu Town, the Heat Treatment Facility in Iitate Village, the Interim Storage Facility (ISF) in Okuma Town and TEPCO’s office in Koriyama City.

The leader of the IAEA team, Horst Monken-Fernandes, an Environmental Remediation Specialist at the IAEA Department of Nuclear Energy, noted that the Ministry of the Environment, the Fukushima Prefectural Government and other stakeholders have been making efforts to communicate information about radiation with residents through the Decontamination Information Plaza and the Fukushima Prefectural Centre for Environmental Creation.

Shoji Nishida, the Mayor of Date City, highlighted that trust between experts and decision makers was essential for timely and effective decision-making during an emergency situation.

A summary of the meeting can be found here.