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IAEA urges transparency over Japan’s move on n-wastewater

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Vienna: As Japan’s decision to discharge the nuclear wastewater from the crippled Fukushima plant into the Pacific Ocean sparked an international backlash, International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) chief Rafael Mariano Grossi said that he took these concerns “seriously” and called for “transparency”.

“The way to deal with these concerns, for me … it’s very simple. It has one name: transparency,” Grossi, Director-General of the IAEA, told Xinhua news agency in an interview here on Wednesday.

Grossi stressed that when the wastewater is released, it should cause no harm to the environment.

The Japanese government on Tuesday announced its decision to start releasing radioactive water accumulated at the damaged Fukushima nuclear plant into the sea after treatment, amid domestic and international opposition.

Tokyo Electric Power is expected to start discharging the water into the sea in two years after it has been treated.

The operator has stored over 1.2 million tonnes of water in more than 1,000 huge tanks at the site.

On Wednesday, China strongly urged Japan to reconsider its decision on the disposal of nuclear waste, while South Korea, Russia, and the European Commission had expressed deep concerns over the issue.

Grossi noted that not only Japan’s neighboring countries but also the local residents, such as fishermen, were “all very concerned”.

“The issue at hand is very well known. We all know what is there. We all know the amount of water. What we need to do is to make sure that when this starts to be released, there will be no harm to the environment, no harm whatsoever,” he said.

Grossi noted that the IAEA would cooperate with Japan, with professional work organized “before, during and after the controlled release of treated water into the ocean”.

“So the work will start now and we will have to make sure that every step of the way we observe this cooperation, that this cooperation is unhindered, that we have access to everything we need to have access (to),” he said.

The Fukushima plant suffered meltdowns at three of its six reactors after it was hit by a powerful earthquake and ensuing tsunami in March 2011.

Since then, the operator has continued to inject water into the three reactors to keep cooling melted atomic fuel there.

Radiation-contaminated water at the site has been treated through an advanced liquid processing system, but tritium, a radioactive isotope of hydrogen, cannot be removed.

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