Taiwan team to look into Fukushima nuclear plant's wastewater release

09/28/2021 12:10 AM
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Image courtesy of Kyodo News
Image courtesy of Kyodo News

Taipei, Sept. 27 (CNA) Taiwan has assembled a team of experts to visit Japan to look into the country's plans to release contaminated water from the disabled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant into the ocean, the Atomic Energy Council (AEC) said Monday.

The group is expected to make the visit by the end of the year, said Hsieh Shou-shing (謝曉星), head of the agency, noting that Japan has agreed to the trip in principle.

The Taiwanese observation team is similar to an investigative task force led by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) that will probe the matter, Hsieh told the media after giving a briefing on the matter at the Legislative Yuan.

The IAEA has the authority to enter the Fukushima nuclear facility to inspect relevant work, while the Taiwanese team will carry out an on-site inspection covering the same items as being included in the IAEA investigation, including water release information and relevant monitoring measures, according to Hsieh.

The AEC has been coordinating with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Taiwan's representative office in Japan on negotiations with Japan over the team's planned visit, Hsieh said.

He noted that some IAEA representatives had traveled to Japan and the nuclear watchdog of the United Nations planned to dispatch its first investigative team to Japan by the end of this year.

Japan has announced it would release more than one million tons of wastewater from the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant into the sea, beginning in about two years.

It said the Fukushima plant's operator, Tokyo Electric Power Co., will treat and dilute the contaminated water before pumping it.

The filtering process will remove most radioactive elements from the water, leaving only tritium, according to previous media reports.

The IAEA has come up with a timetable for procedures and measures regarding the release of the water and the AEC will map out its plan in line with the IAEA timetable despite Taiwan's failure to be included in the IAEA investigative task force, Hsieh said.

Taiwan has banned food imports from five Japanese prefectures -- Fukushima, Ibaraki, Tochigi, Gunma and Chiba -- since the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster on March 11, 2011.

It also subjected nine categories of Japanese food products from other parts of Japan to batch-by-batch border inspections for radioactive residue since the nuclear disaster.

About 175,000 items have since then been tested, according to government data.

Asked by a lawmaker whether Taiwan has enough capacity to increase tests for radioactive residue if Taiwan resumes the import of food products from the five Japanese prefectures, Hsieh replied that currently Taiwan's testing capacity outstrips the annual demand by about three times.

Preparations for the import resumption have been made over the past years, he said.

Taiwan is considering lifting the decade-long ban on Japanese food imports from the five Japanese prefectures affected by the 2011 nuclear disaster as it has formally applied to join the Tokyo-led Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), one of the world's biggest trade blocs.

The trade bloc represents a market of 500 million people and accounting for 13.5 percent of global trade.

(By Lin Yu-hsuan and Evelyn Kao)

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