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Korea’s contaminated water inspection team to visit Japan

Korea’s contaminated water inspection team to visit Japan

Posted May. 20, 2023 08:04,   

Updated May. 20, 2023 08:04


The government will send a 21-member team of government experts to check the status of contaminated water treatment at Japan's Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant for five nights and six days starting on Sunday. The inspection team will check the status of contaminated water treatment by having technical discussions and question-and-answer sessions with Japanese officials, including a two-day Fukushima nuclear power plant site inspection.

“We will ascertain the treatment details of Japan’s contaminated water, the overall operation of discharge plans, and the capacity to analyze radioactive materials, which will be followed by devising necessary measures to promote the health and safety of Koreans,” Park Ku-yeon, first vice minister of South Korea’s Office for Government Policy Coordination, said at a briefing on Friday. The inspection team, headed by Yoo Guk-hee, chairperson of the Nuclear Safety and Security Commission, consists of 19 nuclear power plant and radiation experts from the Korea Institute of Nuclear Safety (KINS) and one marine environment radiation expert from the Korea Institute of Ocean Science and Technology (KIOST). “We considered the expertise and continuity of the work in the monitoring that will be carried out in the future,” the vice minister explained about the team's composition. However, civilian experts were not included in the inspection team. The government plans to form a separate advisory group of about 10 people, including private experts, in the future.

The inspection team will hold a technical meeting and Q&A with related Japanese organizations such as Tepco, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, and the Nuclear Regulation Authority on Monday. It will examine the status of contaminated water management at the Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant on the next two days. Based on the on-site inspection results, the team plans to have in-depth discussions on Thursday on the radiation's environmental impact and the analyzed value of the contaminated water in the tank with Japanese authorities. “(Japan) has accepted almost all of our requests on the facilities we had hoped to see, except for those with more serious concerns for radioactive contamination or other safety issues,” the vice minister said.

“Upon generation of contaminated water, its purification, rectification, gathering, dilution, and then discharge to the sea will be comprehensively identified,” Chairperson Yoo said at the briefing. “We will focus on the ALPS facility.” ALPS is a crucial facility designed to reduce all radioactive materials other than tritium.

The main opposition party strongly opposed the government’s sending of the inspection team. "We should not send a tour group to Japan to give them reasons for the discharge of contaminated water, but rather consider the life and safety of the Korean people more important,” the Democratic Party of Korea said.

Na-Ri Shin journari@donga.com