SEOUL, May 14 (Yonhap) -- The oceans ministry said Sunday it plans to carry out a rapid radiation test on ballast water from ships departing from ports near Japan's Fukushima.
The move came ahead of Japan's plan to discharge contaminated water from the crippled Fukushima nuclear power plant, which has stored more than 1.3 million tons of water since three reactors melted down after a powerful earthquake struck off the coast in March 2011.
South Korea plans to check radiation levels on ballast water from ships departing from 17 ports in six prefectures, namely Aomori, Iwate, Fukushima, Miyagi, Ibaraki and Chiba, with mobile devices starting May 22, according to the Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries.
The oceans ministry said the mobile device will allow authorities to check radiation levels in ballast water within an hour, compared to the in-depth analysis that took around 14 days.
Currently, South Korea requests ships departing from Fukushima and Miyagi, which are located closer to the crippled plant, to refill the ballast water before entering its sea. It has been carrying out radiation tests on all ships that have not complied with the guideline.
The country also took random samples of ballast water from ships departing from the four other prefectures.
So far, radiation levels in samples studied by the oceans ministry were similar to those of the country's coastal waters.
The ministry added if Japan releases contaminated water into the sea as planned, it will order all ships departing from the six prefectures to refill ballast water before entering South Korea.
Last week, South Korea and Japan held working-level consultations to discuss details of Seoul's inspection of Tokyo's plan to discharge water from the crippled plant, as agreed upon during a recent summit between President Yoon Suk Yeol and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida.
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