IAEA mission to check Fukushima marine sampling

07 November 2022

A team of experts from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is beginning the latest mission to observe the collection and treatment of marine samples from the sea near the damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Japan.

Seawater samples being taken near the Fukushima Daiichi plant in 202o (Image: IAEA)

The mission - taking place 7–14 November - will observe the collection of seawater, marine sediment and fish samples from coastal waters in the vicinity of the Fukushima Daiichi plant during the 12th such mission carried out under a project initiated in 2014 to support the quality assurance of radioactivity data collection and analysis by Japanese laboratories.

The mission aims to verify the quality of sample collection procedures and analytical methods used by Japanese laboratories performing marine environmental radioactivity monitoring.

Two staff from the IAEA Environment Laboratories in Monaco, as well as two experts from laboratories in Finland and South Korea - members of the network of Analytical Laboratories for the Measurement of Environmental Radioactivity - will collect the samples. The team will also observe sampling of fish from markets in Fukushima Prefecture. All samples will be analysed for radioactivity as part of an inter-laboratory comparison study.

In parallel, the mission will include the collection of additional samples to be used for the IAEA's independent analyses to corroborate Japanese measurement results as part of its safety review of Japan's preparations for the discharge of ALPS-treated water that is currently stored at the Fukushima Daiichi site.

The samples collected are provided to the laboratories participating in the comparison study. The results of the analyses will be submitted to the IAEA to assess the statistical significance of differences in the values, and to publish the results.

The IAEA has been collecting marine samples since 2014 as an ongoing follow-up activity to recommendations made on marine monitoring in a 2014 report by the IAEA International Peer Review Mission on Mid- and Long-Term Roadmap towards the Decommissioning of Tokyo Electric Power Company's Fukushima Daiichi Plant Units 1-4, which reviewed Japan's efforts to plan and implement the decommissioning of the plant.

Japan announced in 2021 that it planned to release treated water stored at the damaged Fukushima Daiichi plant into the sea and asked the IAEA to review its plans against IAEA safety standards.

The discharge of the water is expected to begin during the first half of 2023, but the entire operation could last for decades.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News