Inspectors from the UN’s nuclear watchdog arrived in Tokyo yesterday to monitor marine pollution near the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant, as China demanded Japan provide “accurate” information on how it is handling the crisis.
China told the UN General Assembly it was worried about radioactive water leaks from the atomic plant, which went into meltdown after being an earthquake and ensuing tsunami struck Japan in March 2011.
“China follows closely the countermeasures to be adopted by Japan,” Deputy Chinese Ambassador to the UN Wang Min (王?) told a debate of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
“We urge the Japanese side to spare no effort in minimizing the subsequent impact of the accident and provide timely, comprehensive and accurate information to the international community,” Wang added.
China and Japan are engaged in a series of bilateral disputes, and the new comments are certain to annoy Tokyo, which is already under major domestic pressure over Fukushima, diplomats in New York said.
Wang said the 2011 disaster had “sounded the alarm bell for nuclear safety” even though China “firmly” supports the use of atomic energy.
South Korea also said it was worried about the radioactive leaks, but was more supportive of Japan.
The Fukushima facility “continues to be a source of serious concern, especially to adjacent countries, because of the spillage of contaminated water into the sea,” South Korean Deputy Ambassador to the UN Sul Kyung-hoon said.
Seoul “appreciates the Japanese government’s efforts to share relevant information with the international community,” Sul added, while calling on the agency to strengthen assistance to Japan.
IAEA director-general Yukiya Amano said the atomic watchdog “has recommended that Japan establish an effective plan and mechanisms for the long-term management of contaminated water.”
“The announcement by the Japanese government of a basic policy for addressing this issue was an important step forward,” Amano added.
The first batch of agency experts arrived in Japan yesterday at the invitation of Tokyo as it looks to bolster its credibility.
The two researchers from the Environment Laboratories in Monaco are planning to analyze sea water near the plant, the agency said.
Their analysis will contribute to the IAEA-led international peer review of Tokyo’s roadmap toward decommissioning the destroyed reactors, it said.
“One of the focuses of the mission is the contaminated water issue,” the watchdog said.
The experts are David Osborn, the director of Environment Laboratories in Monaco, and Hartmut Nies, head of the Radiometrics Laboratory, it added.