Government plan for better nuclear communication

05 September 2013

The Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs will set up an international group concerning water issues at Fukushima Daiichi, with one priority being enhanced global communication.

A new "intergovernmental liaison office" is to be established near the damaged power plant, in conjunction with an "intergovernmental council for coordination." One of the priorities will be "prevention of reputational damage or misinformation, reinforcement of global communications."

The initiative by the government comes from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) instead of the usual department responsible for Fukushima clean-up, the Ministry of Economy Trade and Industry. It follows a period of media attention on various leaks, hot spots and groundwater issues, none of which had an off-site impact, but nevertheless recieved intense and worrying coverage in international media. This even forced prime minister Shinzo Abe to reassure the International Olympic Committee that the plant would present no risk to people attending the Olympic Games in 2020, should Tokyo's bid be successful.

Takuya Hattori of the Japan Atomic Industrial Forum, said urgent nuclear safety matters had dictated early priorities for Tokyo Electric Power Company (Tepco) in managing the site, and relative to other clean-up work "it is undeniable that contaminated water measures have been a step behind." However, "partly due to improper information disclosure until now, present conditions... are being sensationalized in reporting not only in neighbouring countries but in the USA and Europe as well."

In practical terms relating to the clean-up operation and management of the site, there will be a council of Japanese ministers and a push for improved program management and risk identification.

The first priority on the site is action is to remove the source of contamination, which has led to high detection of beta-emitting tritium and other radionuclides in groundwater samples. This is thought to result from the mingling of groundwater with highly contaminated cooling water in the building basements, and Tokyo Electric Power Company today identified the first known point of groundwater ingress into the basement complex.

Any ingress of groundwater as well as presumed leakage out again must be stopped, according to the MOFA statement today.

Seafront status

MOFA confirmed the meaning of data published every day by the Nuclear Regualtory Authority: "influence of contaminated water is limited to the port of Fukushima Daiichi, whose area is smaller than 0.3 square kilometres." This is an area bounded by a silt fence that prevents radionuclides reaching the open sea. Beyond this, radioactivity in seawater is "constantly below 10 becquerels per litre," said MOFA - pointing out that this meets standards for public bathing.

MOFA said: "At present, statistically-significant increase of radioactive concentration in the sea outside the port of Fukushima Daiichi 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."

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News