New Zealand Supports IAEA-Authorized Water Release From Fukushima NPP - Foreign Minister

MOSCOW (Pakistan Point News / Sputnik - 10th July, 2023) New Zealand Foreign Minister Nanaia Mahuta said on Monday she supported the proposal of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to release treated water from Japan's Fukushima nuclear power plant (NPP) into the Pacific Ocean

Last week, IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi said that Japan's plan to discharge treated water from the NPP, which was severely damaged by a magnitude 9 earthquake in 2011, was safe and in line with the agency's safety standards.

"I reiterated New Zealand's full confidence in the IAEA's advice and commended their science-based approach. I also felt it was important to draw attention to the Pacific's traumatic experience with nuclear testing and asked directly that meaningful engagement continue with the Pacific region on the proposed release," she said following a meeting with Grossi, according to a government statement.

Mahuta also said New Zealand fully supported the IAEA's work including efforts aimed at promoting nuclear non-proliferation. The sides also discussed the work of the IAEA's permanent mission in Ukraine.

Japan initially planned to begin discharging water purified of all radionuclides except tritium into the ocean 1 kilometer (0.6 miles) from the station this spring. Tritium exists in natural conditions, and due to weak beta radiation, it has limited impact on human health, however it can be dangerous when it enters the body. As of yet, the reservoirs designed to store about 1.37 million tonnes of water are 90% full. The deadline for the water release was pushed back to the summer of 2023 due to adverse weather conditions and other factors.

The Fukushima nuclear disaster occurred on March 11, 2011. The plant was severely damaged by a magnitude 9 earthquake in the Pacific Ocean. This triggered a massive tsunami that hit the plant and caused three nuclear reactors to melt down. The accident is considered the worst nuclear disaster since the Chernobyl accident in 1986 and has resulted in widespread contamination of local soil and water.