IAEA to assess preparations for release of water from stricken Fukushima plant
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Experts from the International Atomic Energy Association have arrived in Japan for an assessment of preparatory work ahead of the release into the ocean of treated radioactive water from the wrecked Fukushima nuclear power plant.

The Japanese government has announced that the IAEA specialists will meet officials and visit the station in order to discuss technical details of the planned release.

    The station’s operator, the Tokyo Electric Power Company, said last spring that it was ready to begin the gradual release of water in 2023. The treated water from Fukushima is currently kept in special reservoirs as it still contains radioactive tritium.

    The plan has been opposed by local residents, fishermen and Japan’s neighbors, including China and South Korea. At the request of Japanese authorities, the IAEA is to oversee proper observance of international safety norms in the release of the water.

    The government has long advised that water must be removed from the reservoirs in order to free up space needed at the site in order to complete the decommissioning of the plant. Releasing the water into the ocean is seen as the most realistic approach.

   The water is used for cooling the reactors and is pumped out, treated and kept in cisterns – a total of 1.2 million tonnes has already been stored. And the government says the issue of storage will soon become acute.

    Treated water will be diluted with sea water and the mixing will be carried out in a one-km tunnel to keep it separate from the liquid used for dilution. The mixing will be completed far from areas used for fisheries. The release must be conducted slowly and gradually over a period of at least 30 years.

    A 2011 earthquake off the Japanese coast produced a tsunami and triggered the most serious accident since the 1986 explosion and fire at Chernobyl. Three reactors at the Fukushima-1 plant melted down as a result.

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