International Atomic Energy Agency experts are in northeastern Japan to analyze radiation levels in seawater surrounding the tsunami-crippled Fukushima nuclear power plant.
Two IAEA specialists departed from Onahama port early Thursday in a vessel used by the plant's operator, the Tokyo Electric Power Co., to collect water samples, the Kyodo news agency reported.
David Osborn, director of the IAEA's Environmental Laboratories, and Hartmut Nies, head of the agency's Radiometry Laboratory, planned to collect samples at more than 10 points within 15 kilometers (9.3 miles) of the stricken plant.
The technicians also plan to meet with Japanese authorities, including the Nuclear Regulation Authority, to thoroughly analyze the countermeasures being adopted to mitigate the disaster.
The visit also is aimed at expediting the work of the next team of IAEA experts, who are scheduled to arrive in Japan at the end of November to inspect the progress made in dismantling the plant.
Japan hopes the IAEA reports alleviate the fears of other regional countries, which have expressed concern about the impact of the nuclear disaster and ongoing reports about contaminated water leaking into the sea due, in many cases, to human error.
The visit comes two weeks after a group of IAEA technicians, led by Spain's Juan Carlos Lentijo, issued a preliminary report in Tokyo hailing the progress made in decontaminating affected areas and praising authorities' food-safety measures. EFE