By Kim Han-joo
SEOUL, May 26 (Yonhap) -- A team of South Korean experts returned home Friday after completing their six-day trip to Japan to conduct an on-site inspection of the crippled Fukushima nuclear power plant ahead of its controversial release of contaminated water.
The 21-member team, headed by Nuclear Safety and Security Commission Chairperson Yoo Guk-hee, assessed whether the tons of contaminated water can be treated so as to be safe enough to be discharged into the ocean this summer.
"One of the key points we have looked into was whether the process of suspending a discharge will be carried out properly in the situation of an anomaly," Yoo told reporters at Incheon International Airport, west of Seoul.
The trip included a two-day inspection of the plant's facilities to examine its custom purification system, known as ALPS, and facilities related to the K4 tanks, which are designed to store and measure radioactive substances.
Yoo said the team closely examined the details at the site and requested additional data.
"We plan to explain the contents of the inspection as soon as possible," he said.
Critics have raised questions about the limited role of the visit, downplaying it as a mere formality and insufficient for verifying the safety of the discharge process.
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.
Currently, the plant stores over 1.3 million tons of water treated by ALPS. The water discharge is set to begin this summer and will take decades to complete, which Japanese officials view as an unavoidable step in the decommissioning process.