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Global industry response to Fukushima

An OECD Nuclear Energy Agency (NEA) report provides the following summary of the accident, its ongoing impact and the follow-up actions being taken by the nuclear industry:

On 11 March 2011, Japan endured one of the worst combined natural disasters in its history when a massive earthquake struck its eastern coast and was followed by a tsunami which led to the loss of thousands of lives. These combined natural disasters were also at the origin of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant accident due to the prolonged loss of electric power supply and ultimate heat sink required for cooling. While the accident itself was not responsible for any casualties, it has affected the lives of tens of thousands of displaced Japanese citizens, resulted in very large economic costs and caused considerable environmental damage in the surrounding area.

As part of the NEA’s activities to maintain and further develop the scientific, technological and legal bases for the safe use of nuclear energy, and as a contribution to the OECD mission to foster “better policies for better lives”, the Agency has worked closely with its member and partner countries to examine the causes of the accident and to identify lessons learnt with a view to the appropriate follow-up actions being taken at the national and international levels. Much has already been accomplished, and further studies and research will be carried out.

While for most this accident has not called into question the use of nuclear power as such, it has reminded us all that nuclear energy requires the highest standards of safety which need to be reviewed and improved on a regular basis, and that there can be absolutely no complacency in this regard.

The Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant accident marks a turning point in terms of reviewing how nuclear safety is evaluated and ensured. It has triggered a closer examination of specific site locations and designs associated with those sites. It has also compelled nuclear safety experts to confirm that the principles upon which nuclear safety has been built remain valid, notably the defence-in-depth concept, but that more needs to be done to ensure their effective implementation in all countries and all circumstances. A strong safety culture, maintaining a questioning attitude and learning from one another will help us accomplish this together. The work of the NEA described in this report constitutes an important contribution to the safety of both today’s and tomorrow’s nuclear reactors.

Foreword from the NEA Director-General; The Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant Accident: OECD/NEA Nuclear Safety Response and Lessons Learnt, p3; NEA No. 7161, © OECD 2013


The following websites can provide updated information on the state of recovering operations.

IAEA News Centre – Fukushima – Status Reports

The Hiroshima Syndrome


The United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation (UNSCEAR) has finalised a 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 on 2 April 2014. This major study assesses the radiation doses and associated effects on health and the environment.

“No radiation-related deaths or acute diseases have been observed among the workers and general public exposed to radiation from the accident.

The doses to the general public, both those incurred during the first year and estimated for their lifetimes, are generally low or very low. No discernible increased incidence of radiation-related health effects are expected among exposed members of the public or their descendants. The most important health effect is on mental and social well-being, related to the enormous impact of the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear accident, and the fear and stigma related to the perceived risk of exposure to ionizing radiation. Effects such as depression and post-traumatic stress symptoms have already been reported. Estimation of the occurrence and severity of such health effects are outside the Committee’s remit.”

Source: UNSCEAR 2013 Report – Volume I – Report to the General Assembly; Scientific Annex A: Levels and effects of radiation exposure due to the nuclear accident after the 2011 great east-Japan earthquake and tsunami