South Korea says respects IAEA review of Japan’s Fukushima wastewater plan


SEOUL: South Korea’s government said on Friday (July 7) it respected the United Nations nuclear energy watchdog’s review of Japan’s plan to discharge treated radioactive water from the tsunami-wrecked Fukushima plant into the ocean and said it met international standards.


Seoul announced its own assessment after the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) gave the greenlight this week to Japan’s plan, despite concerns over safety in some neighbouring countries and signs of a consumer backlash.


“Based on a review of the treatment plan of contaminated water presented by Japan, we have confirmed concentration of radioactive material meets standards for ocean discharge,” Mr Bang Moon-kyu, Minister of the Office for Government Policy Coordination, told a briefing.


“Therefore the plan meets international standards including those of the IAEA,” he said.


Mr Bang said South Korea respected the findings of the IAEA since the report was based on a task force of global experts set up by an established international agency.


The plan to discharge the treated water from the Fukushima plant is also expected to “not have any meaningful impact on our ocean areas,” Mr Bang said.


South Korea has conducted its own review of the plan by Japan to release more than a million tons of treated radioactive water, most of which was used to cool the reactors destroyed by the March 2011 tsunami.


Mr Bang said South Korea’s assessment was contingent on the execution of the plan as laid out by Japan and it would conduct further review if there were changes.


The administration of President Yoon Suk Yeol has walked a fine line in its stance to Japan’s discharge proposal, as it tries to improve ties with Tokyo even though the plan has been a contentious issue with local consumers concerned about safety.


The announcement comes as Mr Rafael Grossi, director general of the IAEA, is due to arrive in South Korea on Friday for a three-day visit to explain the agency’s findings after it approved Japan’s plan this week.


On Thursday, a group of South Korean lawmakers from the main opposition Democratic Party held a press conference calling on Japan to consider other ways to handle the wastewater including burying it under the ground or through evaporation.


Mr Grossi is also due to meet South Korean Foreign Minister Park Jin during his visit.


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