Great Progress in Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Accident Remediation Efforts
United Nation experts are encouraging the Japanese government to better communicate contamination goals with the public but are otherwise very positive about the progress that has been made in the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident remediation efforts in Japan. The experts are from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) a U.N. task force who oversees and reviews remediation efforts. They have been conducting ongoing reviews of the situation since the 2011 earthquake.
In March 2011, a 9.0-magnitude earthquake created a tsunami that in addition to killing 20,000 people, slammed into the power station, disabling cooling systems and leading to fuel meltdowns in three of the six units. The incident was reported to be the worst nuclear accident since the 1986 Chernobyl disaster.
The mission recognized the "huge effort and enormous resources" that Japan is devoting to its remediation strategies and activities, with the aim of improving living conditions for people affected by the nuclear accident and enabling evacuees to return home, the IAEA said in a news release.
"Japan has done an enormous amount to reduce people's radiation exposure in the affected areas, to work towards enabling evacuees to go back to their homes and to support local communities in overcoming economic and social disruption," said team leader Juan Carlos Lentijo, Director of the Division of Fuel Cycle and Waste Technology in the IAEA’s Department of Nuclear Energy.
He added that the team was really impressed by the involvement of a wide range of ministries, agencies and local authorities in driving these crucial remediation efforts.
The 14-21 October mission, which was requested by the Japanese Government, welcomed the extensive provision of individual dosimeters so that residents can monitor their own radiation dose rates, helping to boost public confidence.
"Good progress has been made in the remediation of affected farmland, and comprehensive implementation of food safety measures has protected consumers and improved consumer confidence in farm produce," the press release noted, adding that a comprehensive programme to monitor fresh water sources such as rivers, lakes and ponds is ongoing, including extensive food monitoring of both wild and cultivated freshwater fish.
The mission encouraged the Government to strengthen its efforts to explain to the public that an additional individual radiation dose of 1 millisievert per year (mSv/y), which it has announced as a long-term goal, cannot be achieved in a short time by decontamination work alone.
Read more at the UN News Centre.
Fukushima Nuclear Plant image via Shutterstock.