IAEA chief to visit Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant

The head of the International Atomic Energy Agency will visit Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant this week to study a plan to release the treated water that accumulates there into the sea.

IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi spoke to reporters in Vienna ahead of his trip to Japan from Wednesday to Friday.

Grossi said he will visit the plant in northeastern Japan on Thursday, which suffered a triple collapse in the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami.

The IAEA has assessed a release plan by the plant operator, the Tokyo Electric Power Company.

Water is used to cool molten nuclear fuel. It mixes with rain and groundwater flowing into damaged reactor buildings. It is processed to remove most radioactive material, but still contains radioactive tritium.

Before the water is discharged into the ocean, it will be diluted to lower the tritium concentration to levels below national regulations.

The IAEA says it will compile a report around the spring of next year, when the Japanese government intends to start the landfill.

Grossi noted that an on-site assessment would help him reach his own conclusion.

He also said he intended to hear from locals, some of whom oppose the release of treated water for fear of reputational damage.