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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 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 has finalized 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. Eighteen UN Member States offered more than 80 experts to conduct the analytical work cost-free.

The summary report that was adopted by the Committee was presented to the General Assembly in October 2013 ( A/68/46), and the detailed report with the scientific data and evaluation underpinning the summary was published online on 2 April 2014. This major study assesses the radiation doses and associated effects on health and the environment.

Among others, the assessment addressed 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), closely coordinated with 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)

Fact sheet on UNSCEAR Fukushima Report in Japanese: UNSCEAR福島報告書についての概略(和文)

Fact sheet on UNSCEAR Fukushima Report in English: Link to pdf version

Last updated: Wednesday, 17 December 2014