Nuclear agency “cautiously” praises Fukushima decommissioning process


The UN nuclear watchdog cautiously praised Japan’s progress on decommissioning efforts at the Fukushima nuclear plant, but warned that the situation remains “extremely complicated.”

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which sent a team of nuclear experts to examine cleanup work at the plant, said Japan “has achieved good progress in improving its strategy and in allocating necessary resources to conduct a safe decommissioning of the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power station.”

The 19-strong team lauded progresses made by Tokyo Electric Power Co since their last visit in April, mainly the removal of fuel rods from a damaged reactor and management of radioactive water spills. But added more needs to be done for the precarious plant’s long-term stability.

The vast quantity of contaminated water now being stored at the plant remains to be the biggest problem, according to a review done by the IAEA team.

“Regarding the growing amounts of contaminated water at the site, TEPCO should… examine all options for its further management, including the possibility of resuming controlled discharges (into the sea) in compliance with authorized limits,” an IAEA statement said. It will released its final report on their inspection by the end of January.

“To pursue this option, TEPCO should prepare appropriate safety and environmental impact assessments.”

Decommissioning the Fukushima plant will take at least three to four decades as the process, such as disposing nuclear wastes, will likely face roadblocks from local fishermen, neighboring countries and environmental groups.

By Maesie Bertumen

Image: IAEA Imagebank/Flickr



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