Preparing a scientific report to the General Assembly on 'Exposures due to the nuclear accident following the Great East-Japan earthquake and tsunami'

Chair of UNSCEAR, Vienna International Centre, PO Box 500, A-1400 Vienna, Austria.
Journal of Radiological Protection (Impact Factor: 1.7). 03/2012; 32(1):N113-8. DOI: 10.1088/0952-4746/32/1/N113
Source: PubMed


At its 58th session in May 2011, the United Nations Committee on the Effects of Atomic
Radiation (UNSCEAR) decided to carry out, once sufficient information was available, a
full assessment of the levels of exposure and radiation risks attributable to the
Fukushima accident. It envisages a preliminary document for consideration at its 59th
session in May of 2012 and a more complete report for the 60th session of the
Committee in 2013. This paper summarises the aims and objectives of the project,
the scope, the working arrangements as well as the relation of the work to other

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    • "However , the latter studies , dealing with the first 2 months after the accident , did not take into account the external irradiation from sediment in the coastal zone . The uncertainties associated with dose estimates to non - human spe - cies in the early studies , along with the need to establish the significance of these doses in terms of effects to the marine biota , prompted the UNSCEAR to approach this issue shortly after the accident ( Weiss , 2012 ) . There are very few reports of radiation effects in sensitive end - points of marine biota for both acute high doses and chronic low dose rates . "
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    ABSTRACT: An international study under the United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation (UNSCEAR) was performed to assess radiological impact of the nuclear accident at the Fukushima-Daiichi Nuclear Power Station (FDNPS) on the marine environment. This work constitutes the first international assessment of this type, drawing upon methodologies that incorporate the most up-to-date radioecological models and knowledge. To quantify the radiological impact on marine wildlife, a suite of state-of-the-art approaches to assess exposures to Fukushima derived radionuclides of marine biota, including predictive dynamic transfer modelling, was applied to a comprehensive dataset consisting of over 500 sediment, 6000 seawater and 5000 biota data points representative of the geographically relevant area during the first year after the accident. The dataset covers the period from May 2011 to August 2012. The method used to evaluate the ecological impact consists of comparing dose (rates) to which living species of interest are exposed during a defined period to critical effects values arising from the literature. The assessed doses follow a highly variable pattern and generally do not seem to indicate the potential for effects. A possible exception of a transient nature is the relatively contaminated area in the vicinity of the discharge point, where effects on sensitive endpoints in individual plants and animals might have occurred in the weeks directly following the accident. However, impacts on population integrity would have been unlikely due to the short duration and the limited space area of the initially high exposures. Our understanding of the biological impact of radiation on chronically exposed plants and animals continues to evolve, and still needs to be improved through future studies in the FDNPS marine environment.
    Full-text · Article · Jan 2014 · Science of The Total Environment
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    ABSTRACT: The World Health Organization (WHO) has responded to the 2011 East-Japan earthquake and tsunami through the three levels of its decentralised structure. It has provided public health advice regarding a number of issues relating to protective measures, potassium iodide use, as well as safety of food and drinking water, mental health, travel, tourism, and trade. WHO is currently developing an initial health risk assessment linked to a preliminary evaluation of radiation exposure around the world from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident. Lessons learned from this disaster are likely to help future emergency response to multi-faceted disasters.
    Full-text · Article · Mar 2012 · Journal of Radiological Protection
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    ABSTRACT: Following the Fukushima accident, the International Commission on Radiological Protection (ICRP) convened a task group to compile lessons learned from the nuclear reactor accident at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Japan, with respect to the ICRP system of radiological protection. In this memorandum the members of the task group express their personal views on issues arising during and after the accident, without explicit endorsement of or approval by the ICRP.While the affected people were largely protected against radiation exposure and no one incurred a lethal dose of radiation (or a dose sufficiently large to cause radiation sickness), many radiological protection questions were raised. The following issues were identified: inferring radiation risks (and the misunderstanding of nominal risk coefficients); attributing radiation effects from low dose exposures; quantifying radiation exposure; assessing the importance of internal exposures; managing emergency crises; protecting rescuers and volunteers; responding with medical aid; justifying necessary but disruptive protective actions; transiting from an emergency to an existing situation; rehabilitating evacuated areas; restricting individual doses of members of the public; caring for infants and children; categorising public exposures due to an accident; considering pregnant women and their foetuses and embryos; monitoring public protection; dealing with 'contamination' of territories, rubble and residues and consumer products; recognising the importance of psychological consequences; and fostering the sharing of information.Relevant ICRP Recommendations were scrutinised, lessons were collected and suggestions were compiled.It was concluded that the radiological protection community has an ethical duty to learn from the lessons of Fukushima and resolve any identified challenges. Before another large accident occurs, it should be ensured that inter alia: radiation risk coefficients of potential health effects are properly interpreted; the limitations of epidemiological studies for attributing radiation effects following low exposures are understood; any confusion on protection quantities and units is resolved; the potential hazard from the intake of radionuclides into the body is elucidated; rescuers and volunteers are protected with an ad hoc system; clear recommendations on crisis management and medical care and on recovery and rehabilitation are available; recommendations on public protection levels (including infant, children and pregnant women and their expected offspring) and associated issues are consistent and understandable; updated recommendations on public monitoring policy are available; acceptable (or tolerable) 'contamination' levels are clearly stated and defined; strategies for mitigating the serious psychological consequences arising from radiological accidents are sought; and, last but not least, failures in fostering information sharing on radiological protection policy after an accident need to be addressed with recommendations to minimise such lapses in communication.
    Full-text · Article · Jun 2013 · Journal of Radiological Protection
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