Press Release of the China Atomic Energy Authority on the Discharge of the Nuclear-contaminated Water from the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station
  • Updated:2023-07-06
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On July 4, 2023, Rafaeal Mariano Grossi, Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), released officially the IAEA Comprehensive Report on the Safety Review of the ALPS-treated Water at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station (hereinafter as “the Report”). Deng Ge, Secretary General of the China Atomic Energy Authority (CAEA), expressed to the media that  the IAEA has invited experts from multiple countries to participate in the review mission of the discharge of the Fukushima nuclear-contaminated water, however, the Report does not fully reflect the opinions and comments of all the experts, and there are limitations and partiality in relevant conclusions. The CAEA expresses regret over the hasty release of such a report by the IAEA.

First, Japan did not justify its decision to discharge the nuclear-contaminated water into the ocean. It is after the Japanese government had made the unilateral decision to release the nuclear-contaminated water into the ocean from the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station that it requested the IAEA to conduct review under domestic and overseas pressure. The Terms of Reference (TOR) of the IAEA Task Force has been deliberately restricted to the review of the ocean discharge plan, to the exclusion of other potential options. Even though the IAEA recognized that the ocean discharge plan is in compliance with relevant international safety standards, it cannot prove that the ocean discharge plan is the only and optimal option for treating the nuclear-contaminated water.

Second, Japan did not justify the long-term effectiveness and reliability of the treatment facility. The Report points out that, the Advanced Liquid Processing System (ALPS) cannot remove all the radionuclides in the nuclear-contaminated water. The previous operation record of the ALPS system has demonstrated that it cannot effectively remove  radionuclides such as tritium and C-14. It requires further engineering test and verification of its effective removal of other radionuclides. Data released by Japan shows that over 70% of the treated water does not meet standard and needs further treatment. The efficacy and reliability of the performance of the ALPS system will decline further with the corrosion and ageing of the facility in the course of future long-term operation.

Third, Japan did not justify the authenticity and accuracy of the data on the nuclear-contaminated water. The Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings, Inc. (TEPCO) has been repeatedly tampering with or covering up the data in recent years. Japan has green-lighted the ocean discharge plan, pushed forward the preparation work, and imposed pressure and restrictions on the IAEA’s review. The IAEA has only carried out review and assessment on the data and information provided unilaterally by Japan, and conducted inter-laboratory comparison (ILC) for a small amount of samples of nuclear-contaminated water collected unilaterally by Japan. Under such circumstances that the authenticity of data and the accuracy of information remains to be verified and independence and representativeness of sampling is seriously insufficient, it is far from convincing despite the conclusion of the IAEA’s review that the ocean discharge plan is consistent with international safety standards.

Forth, Japan did not justify that the ocean discharge of nuclear-contaminated water is safe and harmless to the marine environment and human health. The nuclear-contaminated water at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station contains over 60 radionuclides. There are not yet effective technology to treat many of those radionuclides. Some long-lived radionuclides may spread with the ocean currents and cause uncertain impacts on the ecological balance of coastal waters of Japan’s neighbouring countries; and may form a bio-concentration and pose potential hazards to food safety and human health with the mitigation of marine species and the food chain. There is no effective measure to guarantee that Japan will deliver on its commitments that the impact assessment and discharge control measures of the nuclear-contaminated water meets the international safety standards, nor can the potential long-term hazards of the nuclear-contaminated water on the marine environment and human health be eliminated.

China urges Japan to face up to the legitimate concerns of the international community, and the opinions and advice from the IAEA and other authoritative international professional agencies. Pending providing credible evidence on the legitimacy of the ocean discharge, reliability of the ALPS system, authenticity of the source term data, uncertainty of environmental impacts, etc., seeking understanding with stakeholders including its neighbouring countries, and taking effective rectification measures in regards to the IAEA’s assessment, Japan must not start the ocean discharge process.

The Report clearly states that the IAEA will continue its impartial, independent and objective safety review during the discharge phase and conduct independent sampling and monitoring. China urges the IAEA to establish independent and effective long-term international monitoring arrangements led by the IAEA with full participation of third-party laboratories from Japan’s neighbouring countries as soon as possible, attach importance to the views of experts from various countries, and take into full consideration the concerns and participation of stakeholders including Japan’s neighbouring countries and Pacific Island Countries. China urges Japan to cooperate fully with the IAEA-led long-term international monitoring arrangements and follow-up review missions, continuously conduct monitoring on the long-term reliability of the ALPS system, monitoring on the source term of nuclear-contaminated water and the environment, and radiation environmental impact assessment(REIS), release in a timely and transparent manner credible data and information to stakeholders including its neighbouring countries, and subject itself to oversight and questioning. Until the long-term international monitoring arrangements are established, Japan must not start the ocean discharge process. Whenever abnormal data on the discharge is identified or the control system fails, the discharge must be suspended immediately.