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The Fukushima-Daiichi nuclear power plant accident

UNSCEAR's assessment of levels and effects of radiation exposure due to the
nuclear accident after the 2011 great east-Japan earthquake and tsunamiĀ 

On 11 March 2011, the Fukushima-Daiichi nuclear power plant suffered major damage from the failure of equipment after the magnitude 9.0 great east-Japan earthquake and subsequent tsunami. It was the largest civilian nuclear accident since the Chernobyl accident in 1986. Radioactive material was released from the damaged plant and tens of thousands of people were evacuated.

In May 2011, the Committee embarked upon a two-year assessment of the levels and effects of radiation exposure from the accident. It reported its findings to the General Assembly in October 2013 ( A/68/46), and a detailed publication titled 'Levels and effects of radiation exposure due to the nuclear accident after the 2011 great east-Japan earthquake and tsunami' with the supporting scientific data and evaluation was issued online on 2 April 2014 [ English] [ Japanese].

The main focus of the UNSCEAR 2013 Report was on assessing the exposure to radiation of various groups of the population, and the implied effects in terms of radiation-induced risks for human health and the environment. The population groups considered included residents of the Fukushima Prefecture and other prefectures in Japan; and workers, contractors and others who were engaged in the emergency work at or around the accident site. The environmental assessment addressed marine, freshwater and terrestrial ecosystems.

The secretariat of UNSCEAR, as part of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), closely coordinated with other leading international organizations in this area such as the Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Organization ( CTBTO); Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations ( FAO) ; International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA); World Health Organization (WHO) and World Meteorological Organization (WMO).

Following its assessment, the Committee put in place arrangements for follow-up activites to enable it to remain abreast of additional information as it was published in the scientific literature. A group of experts reviewed more than 80 publications issued between October 2012 and December 2014 in detail (the 2013 report considered information up to October 2012). These publications were selected from amongst a large number that were screened for their relevance. The results of the review were scrutinised by independent critical reviewers, discussed by the full Committee at its session in June 2015, and approved for publication as a White Paper.

Titled "Developments since the 2013 UNSCEAR Report on the Levels and Effects of Radiation Exposure due to the Nuclear Accident Following the Great East-Japan Earthquake and Tsunami", it is available in both English and JapaneseĀ  and is intended to guide the Committee's future programme of work.

Last updated: Thursday, 4 February 2016