Japan asked the International Atomic Energy Agency on Tuesday to conduct a safety review and announce its view to the world in the event Tokyo decides to dispose of treated radioactive water accumulating at the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant.
Japan is considering as an option releasing the water used to cool reactors and stored at the Fukushima complex into the sea but has yet to make a final decision amid opposition by the local fishery industry concerned about the possible effects on marine products as well as neighboring countries.
In a videoconference, Japan's industry minister Hiroshi Kajiyama told IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi that Japan wants the U.N. nuclear watchdog to conduct a scientific and objective review of the method of disposal of the water and openly convey its view to the international community, Japanese officials said.
Grossi said the IAEA is prepared to fully support Japan, being convinced of the country's determination to resolve the issue of the treated water and its technological capacity in carrying that out, the officials told reporters after the meeting.
"It has become increasingly important to dispel concerns and reputational worries over the safety of the water which have been raised domestically as well as from our neighboring countries," Kajiyama said at the outset of the talks open to the media.
He added that under such circumstances, it is "extremely effective" that the IAEA transmits messages in and out of Japan on how the treated water is actually being handled as well as its safety.
Kajiyama told Grossi the Japanese government is in "final-stage coordination" for deciding its policy on the treated water.
Specifically, Japan asked the IAEA to confirm that the method and facilities used for the water disposal match the body's safety standards, to check radiation data in the environment, and to release such findings to the international community, the officials said.
The Fukushima Daiichi power plant, which suffered core meltdowns due to the devastating earthquake and tsunami on March 11, 2011, is generating massive amounts of radiation-tainted water that have been used to cool the reactors.
The water has been treated using an advanced liquid processing system, or ALPS, to remove most contaminants other than relatively less toxic tritium. The water, totaling 1.2 million tons, is stored in tanks on the plant's premises but space could run out by the fall of 2022.
But in addition to the local fishery industry, neighboring countries such as China and South Korea have expressed wariness over the discharge of water from the Fukushima plant into the environment.