Concrete Actions to Address the Contaminated Water Issue at the TEPCO’s Fukushima Daiichi NPS
September 11, 2013
In light of the decision of “Basic Policy for the Contaminated Water Issues at the TEPCO’s Fukushima Daiichi NPS” by the Nuclear Emergency Response Headquarters on 3rd September, the 1st Inter-Ministerial Council for Contaminated Water and Decommissioning Issues was held on 10th September. At the Council, the establishment of the Contaminated Water and Decommissioning Issues Team under the Nuclear Emergency Response Headquarters was announced and the concrete actions to tackle the contaminated water issue based on the Basic Policy ware presented. The details are as follows;
1. Contaminated Water and Decommissioning Issues Team
(1) Principal tasks
The Contaminated Water and Decommissioning Issues Team addresses the followings in a comprehensive and prompt manner in concert with relevant administrative bodies.
- Consideration of policies on the contaminated water and decommissioning issues
- Progress management and risk identification of the measures for contaminated water and decommissioning issues
- Research and development needed for the contaminated water and decommissioning issues
- Precise and rapid gathering of information and dissemination of it to residents, global communications, and prevention of reputational damages or misinformation
(2) Organization of the team
Team leader: Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry, Mr. Motegi
Team sub-leader: Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary, Mr. Kato
Team members: Vice-Ministers of relevant ministries and agencies
Regulatory authority: Chairman of Nuclear Regulation Authority, Mr. Tanaka
2. Concrete actions to tackle the contaminated water issue
(1) Making use of wisdom and expertise at home and abroad
- A team will be established to collect wisdom and expertise at home and abroad on potential risks accompanying technical difficulties and proposals of countermeasures are broadly invited.
(2) Preventive and multi-layered approach
- The Committee on Countermeasures for Contaminated Water Treatment will indentify additional potential risks and add countermeasures when necessary.
(3) On-site focused approach
- The total permeation of early detection and report of a new event
- Intergovernmental Council for Fostering Mutual Understanding on the Contaminated Water Issue will review and revise countermeasures and indentify potential risks
(4) Reinforcement of global communications
- Relevant ministries and agencies prepare and disseminate primary information promptly in foreign languages. Also, the Contaminated Water and Decommissioning Issues Team will summarizes and disseminates primary information corresponding to domestic and overseas needs.
- International Public Relations Office of Cabinet Secretariat proactively communicates to foreign media.
Points of the Basic Policy for the Contaminated Water Issues at the TEPCO’s Fukushima Daiichi NPS (decided on 3rd September 2013)
1. Government Initiatives
- Establishment of inter-ministerial council for contaminated water and decommissioning issue
- Establishment of intergovernmental liaison office near the TEPCO’s Fukushima Daiichi NPS
- Establishment of intergovernmental council for coordination near the TEPCO’s Fukushima Daiichi NPS
- Progress management and risk identification of the contaminated water issue and decommissioning
- Financial Support
- Enhancement of monitoring activities, prevention of reputational damages or misinformation, reinforcement of global communications
2. Three Principles for the countermeasures against the contaminated water issue
Principle1: Removing the source of the contamination
Principle2: Isolating ground water from the contamination source
Principle3: Preventing leakage of the contaminated water
1. Influence of contaminated water
- Influence of contaminated water is limited in the port of Fukushima Daiichi NPS, whose area is smaller than 0.3 km2 .
- The results of monitoring of sea water in Japan are constantly below the standard of 10 Bq/L (“Guidelines for Radioactive Substances in Bathing Areas" released by Ministry of Environment gives an instruction regarding the water quality for municipalities to open bathing areas as follows; the concentration of radioactive Cs (Cs-134 and Cs-137) is lower than or equal to 10 Bq/L.
2. Status of the TEPCO’s Fukushima Daiichi NPS
- The temperature in the reactors ranges from 25 to 50 ºC for the last one month (as of August 29).
- The radioactive material release from the reactor buildings is evaluated at 1.6 * 10 -9 becquerels per cm3 for both Cs-134 and Cs-137.
- The radiation dose due to the radioactive material release is 0.03 mSv per year at the site boundaries, which is equivalent to 1/70 of annual natural radiation dose (Japan’s average is 2.1 mSv per year).
3. Safety of food and water
- Japan adopts the world highest level of standard for food and water, and conducts strict monitoring and distribution management. In practice, even in Fukushima Prefecture where the accident occurred, annual radiation exposure from food and water is lower than one hundredth of 1mSv.
- Food safety is secured by (1) setting of the limits harmonized with the guideline levels of Codex Alimentarius, which is 1 mSv/year, (2) rigorous inspections, and (3) prompt restriction of food distribution.
- The monitoring of radionuclide levels of food in Japan was conducted for 412,959 items from 1st April 2012 to 31st August 2013, and among them only 2,866 items (0.69%) exceeded the limits.
- Products exceeding the limits are disposed. Also, the distribution of products exceeding the limits is prevented through the restriction of shipment in areas where those products are found. Therefore, the safety of foods currently on the market is guaranteed.
- For further information, please refer to the following site of the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare. http://www.mhlw.go.jp/stf/kinkyu/0000020539.html
At present, statistically-significant increase of radioactive concentration in the sea outside the port of the TEPCO’s Fukushima Daiichi NPS has not been detected. However, the Government of Japan will continue to pay the closest attention to the situation, make every effort to work on the contaminated water leakage issue, and provide information to the international community in an appropriate way.
(note) The following sites also provide related information.