The South Korean government said last month that Japan’s plan to release contaminated water from its crippled Fukushima nuclear plant would meet international standards, including those set by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), if carried out as planned.
The announcement was based on the government’s scientific analysis of the discharge plan, based on the findings of an on-site inspection of the plant completed in late May and other related data, as well as an analysis of the IAEA safety review.
“After a review of the treatment plan of contaminated water presented by Japan so far, the total concentration level of radioactive materials of Japan’s plan would meet the standards for a release into the ocean,” Government Policy Coordination Minister Bang Moon-kyu told a briefing.
Bang said, therefore, the plan has been confirmed to meet international standards, including those of the IAEA.
According to a simulation based on an emission standard set by Tokyo Electric Power Co., the operator of the plant, the radiation impact on South Korean shores is estimated to be about one-100,000th of the current level.
The government further said that the technology of the plant’s custom purification system, known as ALPS, has gradually improved and stabilized, resulting in radionuclide levels within permissible limits since mid-2019.
Previously, the Seoul government had reported that six types of radionuclides were detected at levels exceeding permissible limits even after treatment through ALPS, but most of these cases occurred before 2019.
As ocean currents disperse the contaminated water, radioactive materials would become nearly undetectable on South Korean shores, the government said, emphasizing that the concentration level would remain within the acceptable limit.
Notably, the concentration level of tritium, a hydrogen radioisotope known to still be detected after treatment through ALPS, would also be within the limit as the seawater would dilute it sufficiently.
“The review was carried out under the premise that Tokyo Electric Power’s discharge plan is carried out as planned,” Bang said.
The government would conduct a further review if there were a change in the plan, Bang said.
The government also emphasized its respect for the outcome of the IAEA’s safety review of Japan’s plan.
Earlier, the UN nuclear watchdog announced that its two-year review found Japan’s plan to release water from the plant into the sea to be consistent with its safety standards.
The agency also stated that the treated water would have a negligible radiological impact on both people and the environment.
Seoul launched a daily press briefing last month to keep the public updated on the planned release of contaminated water from the plant, which suffered severe damage due to a massive earthquake and tsunami in 2011.