Operators of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant said Friday that initial ocean water samples taken since the discharge of wastewater from the plant were well within the acceptable range for radioactive material.
At a news conference near the plant in Fukushima prefecture, officials from the Tokyo Electric Power Company — TEPCO — told reporters they took samples Thursday of water from 10 locations within three kilometers of the power plant.
They reported all the samples showed the concentration of tritium — a radioactive material that is the biproduct of nuclear reactors — was below TEPCO’s self-imposed limit of 700 becquerels per liter. The World Health Organization has set a limit of 10,000 becquerels for drinking water. A becquerel is an internationally recognized unit of measure for radioactivity.
The testing and reports are part of Japan’s efforts to be transparent about the discharge of the treated radioactive water. TEPCO officials say the discharge is necessary to continue with the cleanup and decommissioning of the plant, which was damaged by a powerful earthquake and resulting tsunami in 2011.
Earlier Friday, Japanese Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi held an online meeting with International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Chief Rafael Grossi to discuss the discharge of the water. The United Nations agency last month approved the planned discharge and Grossi reiterated on Friday that it was safe.
Nonetheless, the plan has been met with protests in Japan and abroad. China customs officials announced a ban on Japanese seafood, and South Korean political and civic groups held protests.
Meanwhile, the U.S. State Department Friday issued a statement in support of Japan, saying, as the IAEA has concluded, Japan’s process is safe and consistent with internationally accepted nuclear safety standards.
“The United States is satisfied with Japan’s safe, transparent, and science-based process,” it said.
The statement concluded by saying, “We welcome Japan’s continued transparency and engagement with the IAEA as well as with regional stakeholders.”