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IAEA reviews water release from damaged Japan nuclear plant via AP

By MARI YAMAGUCHI

TOKYO (AP) — A team from the International Atomic Energy Agency on Monday began its review of Japan’s plan to begin releasing more than a million tons of treated radioactive water into the sea from the wrecked Fukushima nuclear plant — a review that Japan hopes will instill confidence in the plan. 

The 15-member team is to visit the Fukushima plant on Tuesday and meet with government and utility officials during its five-day mission.

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The release of the water into the sea has been fiercely opposed by fishermen, local residents and Japan’s neighbors, including China and South Korea. Fukushima residents worry the reputation of their agricultural and fishing products will be further damaged.

Japan sought IAEA’s assistance to ensure the release meets international safety standards and to gain the understanding of other countries. 

Gustavo Caruso, director of the IAEA’s Office of Safety and Security Coordination, said on Monday that the mission “in an objective, credible and science-based manner will help send messages of transparency and confidence for the people in Japan and beyond.”

The team will review details of the water, safety of the discharge, sampling methods and the environmental impact, he said. The team includes experts from several countries, including South Korea and China.

Officials say all isotopes selected for treatment in the contaminated water can be reduced to low levels except for tritium, which is inseparable from the water but is harmless in small amounts. They say a gradual release of the water, diluted with seawater, into the ocean over decades is safe.

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Japan and the IAEA have agreed to compile an interim report on the review later this year.

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