On 11 March 2011 the Japanese experienced the worst earthquake in their history, followed by a devastating tsunami. These natural disasters have had a serious impact on several Japanese nuclear reactors, principally those at the Fukushima Daiichi site. The Health Physics Society (HPS) is concerned about radiation exposures associated with these reactor problems and desires to keep our members and the concerned public advised on current events associated with the Japanese nuclear plants.
DOD Operation Tomodachi Registry
The Department of Defense (DOD) began establishing the Operation Tomodachi Registry following the devastating 11 March 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan. These unfortunate events caused severe damage to the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station, which resulted in the release of radiation into the environment. This registry will include the names of nearly 70,000 DOD-affiliated individuals who were on or near the mainland of Japan during the period from 12 March 2011 to 11 May 2011, along with radiation-exposure estimates for each of these individuals.
The Fukushima Nuclear Accident Independent Investigation Commission has issued its report. The commission was appointed by the Japanese Diet. An English-language version of the executive summary of the report can be found on the Web Archiving Project website.
"Fukushima Daiichi: ANS Committee Report" has been published by the American Nuclear Society (ANS) Special Committee on Fukushima. As stated in the report: "The Committee was charged to provide a clear and concise explanation of the accident events, health physics, and accident cleanup, as well as safety-related issues that emerged. The Committee also evaluated actions that ANS should consider to better communicate with the public during a nuclear event."
In "As Fukushima Cleanup Begins, Long-Term Impacts Are Weighed," Winifred Bird reports on the decontamination efforts in the areas surrounding Fukushima. Health Physics Society members Kathryn Higley and John Till were interviewed for the report.
Updates on the status of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station, which was affected by the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami, are provided by the Japanese Atomic Industrial Forum (JAIF) at http://www.jaif.or.jp/english/fukushima/plantstatus.html. The updates, posted about two times a month, will include information on the challenges and current status of the first period of the medium- and long-term roadmap for decommissioning. JAIF will also update the information if significant developments occur.
The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has released "Recommendations for Enhancing Reactor Safety in the 21st Century: The Near-Term Task Force Review of Insights from the Fukushima Dai-ichi Accident." The Near-Term Task Force was established in response to Commission direction to conduct a systematic and methodical review of NRC processes and regulations to determine whether the agency should make additional improvements to its regulatory system and to make recommendations to the Commission for its policy direction, in light of the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant.
The Japanese Government has released "Report of Japanese Government to the IAEA Ministerial Conference on Nuclear Safety: The Accident at TEPCO's Fukushima Nuclear Power Stations." This preliminary accident report was prepared for the 20–24 June 2011 International Atomic Energy Agency Ministerial Conference on Nuclear Safety and, as stated in its introduction, "represents a summary of the evaluation of the accident and the lessons learned to date based on the facts gleaned about the situation obtained so far."
The emotional trauma of the devastating events in Japan is overwhelming. While the members of the Health Physics Society can only offer our condolences for those who have lost loved ones and our support for those still looking for loved ones, we can help put minds at ease regarding the radiation from the Japanese reactors that has been detected in the United States.
Areva's "The Fukushima Daiichi Incident" is available.
As the world continues to focus on events at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant site, many people are inquiring about the releases of radioactivity and the potential health effects from radiation that plant workers and the surrounding populations may be experiencing. We have seen reported radiation levels in the vicinity of the plant that are quite significant. The HPS has identified the following list of authoritative resources on this website that you can consult for answers to such questions:
The Health Physics Society recommends the following sources of useful information. Although we cannot verify the accuracy of all the information that you may find, we believe these sources are generally reliable and trustworthy. As events unfold and the potential radiation exposures become better known, we hope to be able to share additional information with you regarding radiation safety.
For background and an overview of nuclear power, see our seven-part series "The Resurgence of Nuclear Power: Impact on the Health Physics Profession," reprinted from Health Physics News.
Dick Toohey's "Nuclear Power and Public Health Measures in Nuclear Plant Emergencies" also provides useful information.
The U.S. Department of Energy has released data recorded from its Aerial Monitoring System as well as ground detectors deployed in Japan. That data has been collected, analyzed, and posted on the Department of Energy's website at www.energy.gov/japan2011.
The American Nuclear Society (ANS) Special Committee on Nuclear Non-Proliferation has prepared the Technical Brief - "The Impact of Mixed Oxide Fuel Use on Accident Consequences at Fukushima Daiichi."
Additionally, ANS has prepared and posted a useful Q&A on health effects due to the accident (http://www.ans.org/misc/FukushimaRadiationQ&A_LS.pdf).
The Institut de Radioprotections et de Sûreté Nucléaire (IRSN) has published "Assessment on the 66th Day of Projected External Doses for Populations Living in the North-West Fallout Zone of the Fukushima Nuclear Accident: Outcome of Population Evacuation Measures." According to the IRSN, "The purpose of this report is to provide insight on all radiological assessments performed to our knowledge to date and the impact of population evacuation measures to be taken to minimize the medium and long-term risks of developing leukaemia or other radiation-induced cancers."
Nuclear Emergency Response Headquarters
Reference: TEPCO Release Documents
An American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) Task Force released recommendations for a new nuclear safety construct in June 2012. It reaches beyond the traditional regulatory framework of adequate protection of public health and safety to minimize sociopolitical and economic consequences caused by radioactive releases from accidents.
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