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S. Korean inspection team set to kick off on-site inspection of Fukushima nuclear plant

By Yonhap

Published : May 22, 2023 - 10:44

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Yoo Guk-hee (center), head of the Nuclear Safety and Security Commission, speaks to reporters at Incheon International Airport, west of Seoul, on Sunday, before leading a team of experts to Fukushima, Japan, for a safety inspection of a nuclear power plant damaged by a 2011 earthquake. (Yonhap) Yoo Guk-hee (center), head of the Nuclear Safety and Security Commission, speaks to reporters at Incheon International Airport, west of Seoul, on Sunday, before leading a team of experts to Fukushima, Japan, for a safety inspection of a nuclear power plant damaged by a 2011 earthquake. (Yonhap)

TOKYO -- A team of South Korean experts began its official activities to inspect the planned release of radioactive water from the crippled Fukushima nuclear power plant Monday, amid lingering concerns about the safety of the water.

The Korean delegation is scheduled to hold a meeting later in the day with Japanese officials from the Tokyo Electric Power Co., the operator of the wrecked power plant, as well as the industry ministry and the Nuclear Regulation Authority, the country's top nuclear regulator.

The 21-member team, headed by Nuclear Safety and Security Commission Chairperson Yoo Guk-hee, will conduct the on-site inspection of the nuclear plant Tuesday and Wednesday.

The delegation will then have "in-depth technical discussions" based on their findings Thursday before returning home the following day, according to officials.

During the six-day visit, the delegation will have the opportunity to examine the plant's custom purification system, known as ALPS, and assess whether the treated water is safe enough to be released into the sea.

The inspection -- the first independent one by South Korean experts -- is a follow-up to the summit between South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida in Seoul earlier this month amid a thaw in the two countries' relations badly frayed over historical disputes.

In March 2011, a massive earthquake and subsequent tsunami damaged the Fukushima plant's cooling systems, resulting in the release of a large amount of radiation.

The plant currently stores over 1.3 million tons of water treated by ALPS. The water release is set to begin this summer and will take decades to complete, in what Japanese officials view as an unavoidable step in the decommissioning process. (Yonhap)