The Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami of 11 March 2011 was the worst natural disaster to hit Japan in modern times. It caused a huge loss of life and devastation of infrastructure, but one particular consequence that has been singled out for special attention by both regulatory authorities and the public has been the accident at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant that released substantial quantities of radionuclides to the environment. Although the radiological risks to members of the public arising from this accident are assessed as limited and are unlikely to be detectable against the normal incidence of disease in the exposed population, the indirect effects of the accident on human health are likely to be more significant. In particular, the stresses of evacuation and fear of radiation are likely to have both short- and long-term health impacts, especially for the populations forced to evacuate from the most contaminated zones.
In order to provide accurate and accessible information relevant to the radiological situation in Japan following the Fukushima Dai-ichi accident, the Japan Atomic Energy Agency (JAEA) has developed the CFF (Cleanup-navi; Future for Fukushima) Communication Platform. Although the emphasis of this Platform is on the regional contamination due to the accident and approaches to remediation of the contaminated areas, this is not sufficient, in itself, to provide an overall appreciation of the consequences of the accident or to allow the user to make informed judgements as to the value of the remediation actions that are being undertaken. Therefore, we have complemented the information that relates directly to the Fukushima Dai-ichi accident with background information on the nature of ionising radiation and its health effects, other environmental sources of exposure (including natural background), levels of medical exposure, other major accidents that have released radioactivity to the environment, and the regulatory regime that exists internationally and nationally in Japan to limit exposures of members of the public to ionising radiations. It is hoped that this structured package of information will be of help to individuals and organisations in obtaining an overall understanding of the radiological significance of the Fukushima Dai-ichi accident, so that its consequences are neither over- nor under-estimated, and so that balanced judgements can be made on the actions that should be taken to mitigate its consequences.
Content of the CFF Communication Platform
The Platform comprises three main components:
A comprehensive description of regional contamination following the Fukushima Dai-ichi accident, with particular emphasis on the Fukushima Prefecture;
Details of the demonstration remediation projects carried out by JAEA to establish a basis for a regional remediation programme, with an outline account of how such remediation will allow displaced populations to return to normal lifestyles in the evacuated areas;
Background information on: the nature of ionising radiations and their health effects; everyday exposures to ionising radiations, including natural background, medical diagnosis and treatment, weapons’ fallout, nuclear power and other industrial sources; major accidents and their consequences; and both international and national guidance, legislation and regulations.