At a press conference held after a Cabinet meeting on May 20, HAGIUDA Koichi, head of Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) talked about the draft review report that the Nuclear Regulation Authority of Japan (NRA) had approved two days earlier, on May 18, concerning the basic design of a facility and related equipment for the handling of water treated by the Advanced Liquid Processing System (ALPS-treated water) from the Fukushima Daiichi.
Toward the disposal of the ALPS-treated water, the minister said, “METI will ask the IAEA, an international specialist organization, to confirm the handling of the water fairly from an objective point of view, and will make the results of that review completely open to the public. The government will then explain the findings thoroughly and carefully to the entire supply chain, from producers and distributors to consumers.” He expressed anew the government’s attitude of making concerted efforts to ferment understanding among the public, both regionally and nationally.
The Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO) will complete the dilution and discharge facility for the ALPS-treated water in the spring of 2023. The METI minister commented on the start of releasing the water into the sea by saying, “Understanding must be deepened at the level of the individual. This is not voting or a survey or questionnaire, where the result is that such-and-such percent agree. Concerns differ from person to person.”
Regarding measures to combat unfounded fears, rumors and misinformation, Hagiuda said, “The government will deal with the matter carefully and precisely so as not to sacrifice the progress toward reconstruction that has accumulated in the eleven years since the accident occurred.”
In December of last year, the NRA accepted an application from TEPCO for an examination of the facility. It then conducted its own examination under the Law for the Regulation of Nuclear Source Material, Nuclear Fuel Material and Reactors (the Reactor Regulation Law) and in accordance with the Basic Policy on handling ALPS-treated water at the Fukushima Daiichi, decided upon by the Japanese government in April 2021. The draft review report is open to the public for comments for one month. After consideration of comments received, the report will be finalized in July.
TEPCO released a comment saying, “TEPCO will continue to cooperate fully with safety checks performed by the local government and reviews conducted by the IAEA, while also surely and steadily implementing initiatives based on the government’s basic policy, such as designing and operating facilities in a way that guarantees safety, disseminating accurate information with scientific basis to parties in Japan and abroad, and strengthening monitoring.”
At another press conference held late in the afternoon of May 20, JAIF President ARAI Shiro commented, “It is expected that TEPCO will continue to design and operate facilities with ensured safety, while simultaneously endeavoring to alleviate the anxiety and concerns of local residents.”