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 tsunami
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.
UNSCEAR is in the process of finalizing a major study to assess the radiation doses and associated effects on health and environment. At the high-level meeting on nuclear safety and security convened in New York on 22 September 2011, the Secretary-General of the United Nations called on Member States to ensure that UNSCEAR has the necessary capacity and resources to accomplish its task. The work was also endorsed by the UN General Assembly resolution 66/70 on 9 December 2011. To date eighteen UN Member States have offered more than 80 experts to conduct the analytical work cost-free. When finalized, it will be the most comprehensive scientific analysis of the information available to date.
An interim report to the General Assembly (A/67/46) was issued in September 2012. The draft UNSCEAR Fukushima Report was discussed by the Scientific Committee at its 60th session (27-31 May 2013). The summary report that is finally adopted by the Committee will be presented to the General Assembly, and the detailed report with the scientific data and evaluation underpinning the summary will be published separately.
Among others, the assessment is addressing the following questions:
- How much radioactive material was released and what was its composition?
- How was it dispersed over land and sea, and where are the hotspots?
- How does the accident compare with those at Chernobyl (1986), Three Mile Island (1979) and the Windscale Fire (1957)?
- What are the radiation effects on the environment and on foodstuffs?
- What is the likely radiation impact on human health and the environment?
The secretariat of UNSCEAR, as part of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), is closely coordinating with and involving other leading international organizations in this area:
- 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)