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IAEA Issues New Report on Safety of Japan’s Plan to Discharge ALPS Treated Water from Fukushima Daiichi Site

Vienna, Austria

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Task Force reviewing the safety of Japan’s plan to discharge ALPS treated water from the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station (NPS) into the sea released a new report today.

It is the fourth Task Force report published so far in a series of such documents being issued under the IAEA’s multi-year safety review of the planned ALPS (Advanced Liquid Processing System) treated water discharge at the Fukushima Daiichi NPS.

The new report compiles the findings from the Task Force’s second safety review mission to Japan’s Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), the Fukushima Daiichi NPS operator, and the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) held in November 2022.

It assesses TEPCO’s technical responsibilities including the safety-related aspects of the systems built to discharge the ALPS treated water, the radiological environmental impact assessment, source and environmental monitoring programmes, and occupational radiation protection.

In 2021, Japan requested the Agency to undertake a comprehensive review of the safety of its plan to discharge the ALPS treated water. After accepting the request, IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi appointed a Task Force of independent experts and IAEA staff to carry out the three-pronged review – technical, regulatory, and independent sampling and analysis – against international safety standards which constitute the worldwide reference for protecting the public and the environment from harmful effects of ionizing radiation.

The report issued today highlights that TEPCO has taken account of the issues raised during the previous technical mission in February 2022 and has made significant progress to update its plans in accordance with feedback from the Task Force. Any additional revisions made since the November 2022 mission will be assessed as part of the ongoing safety review after they are finalized and also approved by Japan’s Nuclear Regulation Authority.

The Task Force said it would need to finalize the full safety review of the planned water discharge – encompassing technical, regulatory, and independent sampling and analysis aspects – before concluding whether TEPCO had addressed the fundamental safety principles.

Other observations made by the Task Force included:

  • TEPCO’s determination of the characteristics and activity of the ALPS treated water is used to establish and implement effective monitoring programmes to ensure that any public exposure due to the discharges is adequately considered. In its report, the Task Force said TEPCO’s revised methodology for characterizing the source term is sufficiently conservative yet realistic.
  • Based on the information provided before and during the mission, the Task Force gained a better understanding of TEPCO’s environmental monitoring programmes and agreed that they are comprehensive.
  • The Task Force confirmed that TEPCO has a reliable and sustainable radiation protection programme for its employees. It said there is clear evidence of the implementation of occupational exposure control measures and monitoring arrangements. 

“The Task Force was satisfied that our observations were considered and reflected in revisions to key documents such as the Radiological Environmental Impact Assessment,” said Gustavo Caruso, Director and Coordinator for the ALPS Safety Review, IAEA Department of Nuclear Safety and Security and Chair of the Task Force. “We do not see a need to conduct any further technical review missions to Japan prior to the release but will use the next months to finalize our comprehensive conclusions before any discharge.”

The Task Force’s safety review continues. Two more reports will be released – on regulatory and independent sampling and analysis aspects – before a comprehensive report detailing the collected findings and conclusions of the Task Force across all aspects of the review is issued in this year.

The latest report is available here.

Additional information such as frequently asked questions and a timeline of activities can be found on the IAEA’s dedicated Fukushima Daiichi ALPS Treated Water Discharge webpage.

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