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Fukushima Water Release

Fukushima Daiichi ALPS Treated Water Discharge

Advanced Liquid Processing System (ALPS)

In April 2021, Japan announced the Basic Policy on handling of  ALPS-treated water stored at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station, which is to discharge  ALPS-treated water into the sea surrounding the plant, subject to domestic regulatory approvals. Soon after, the Japanese authorities requested technical assistance from the IAEA to monitor and review those plans and activities related to the discharge of  ALPS-treated water to ensure they will be implemented in a safe and transparent way. The IAEA will conduct this review against the IAEA Safety Standards, which constitute harmonized high levels of safety worldwide and, as such, a global reference for protecting people and the environment.

The IAEA Director General set up a Task Force to provide Japan and the international community with an objective and science-based safety review.

The Agency’s activities in response to this request will consist of a technical review and ongoing monitoring to assess whether the operation to discharge ALPS-treated water over the coming decades is consistent with IAEA Safety Standards. This review will be based on material submitted by Japan and on-site technical missions, and the IAEA will examine key safety elements of Japan’s plan, including:

  • The radiological characterization of ALPS-treated water to be discharged.
  • The safety-related aspects of ALPS-treated water discharge process, including the equipment to be used and the criterion to be applied and observed.
  • The assessment of the radiological environmental impact related to ensuring the protection of people and the environment.
  • The environmental monitoring associated with the discharge.
  • The regulatory control, including authorization, inspection and ongoing assessment of the discharge plan.

Additionally, the IAEA will also conduct independent source and environmental monitoring to corroborate the data published by the Government of Japan. This work will be done in collaboration with IAEA and third-party laboratories.

The IAEA Task Force of international experts

An IAEA Task Force has been set up to review the plans and actions related to  ALPS-treated water discharge. It consists of staff members from across the departments and laboratories of the IAEA, and 11 internationally recognized experts with diverse backgrounds from Argentina, Australia, Canada, China, France, the Marshall Islands, the Republic of Korea, the Russian Federation, the United Kingdom, the United States and Viet Nam. The Task Force members will not work in a national capacity but as part of an international team managed by the IAEA. The Task Force will refer to the IAEA Safety Standards and conduct the review in an objective and science-based manner, which will help send a message of transparency and confidence to the international community.

The Agency initiated its support to Japan under this project in 2021 and will continue the project for many years, consistent with the IAEA Director General’s commitment to provide support before, during and after  ALPS-treated water discharge. Most of the IAEA’s technical review is planned to be completed prior to the discharge of  ALPS-treated water, which may start in 2023, subject to domestic regulatory approvals; however, ongoing monitoring and periodic review activities will continue in the years to come.

But why is the water stored at the Fukushima Daiichi plant? Why do treatment options not remove all traces of radioactivity? And how will the Agency support Japan? Here are the answers to these questions and more.

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