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    UNIS/OUS/102
    26 September 2011

    UNSCEAR Fukushima Daiichi Assessment Update

    VIENNA, 26 September (UN Information Service) - Leaders of the four scientific groups undertaking a major study for the UN General Assembly to assess the impact on health and environment from the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power reactors begin three days of discussion today.

    "This basically is a management meeting about how we assess the risks and effects," said Wolfgang Weiss, Chair of the United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation (UNSCEAR).

    The Fukushima Assessment Task Force, which he chairs, is expected to provide preliminary findings to UNSCEAR's annual session in May 2012 in an interim report.

    The United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, in a statement to the High Level Meeting on Nuclear Safety and Security 22 September in New York, called on UN Member States to ensure that UNSCEAR has "the necessary capacity and resources to accomplish its task."

    The final report of the Fukushima Assessment Task Force will be submitted to the UN General Assembly in 2013.

    "We appreciate public concern about the effects of the accident but to provide a comprehensive and accurate assessment requires a methodical and painstaking process - we can't afford to rush," said Weiss.

    Among questions the report will address about the March 2011 Fukushima accident are:

    • how much radioactive material was released and what was its composition?
    • how was it dispersed over land and sea, what were the radionuclides and where are the hotspots?
    • how does the accident compare with accidents at Chernobyl, in 1986, Three Mile Island in the United States, in 1979 and the 1957 Windscale Fire in the United Kingdom?
    • what were the key pathways and the levels of the exposure of the public and workers and who among them is most at risk?
    • what are the effects on the environment and on foodstuffs?
    • what is the likely impact on human health and the environment?
    • The work of the four expert groups in the Task Force is divided into measurements of radiation and radioactivity, the release and dispersion of radioactive material, an assessment of doses, and the risk from exposure posed to workers.

    As well as assessing the effects in Japan from the accident the study will also evaluate its effects in other countries.

    * *** *

    NOTE to reporters: Wolfgang Weiss will be available for interview by telephone. For more information please contact:

    Peter Rickwood
    Telephone: (+43) 664-248-9680
    Email: rickwoodp[at]gmail.com

    The mandate of UNSCEAR, established in 1955, is to undertake broad reviews of the sources of ionizing radiation and the effects on human health and the environment. Its assessments provide a scientific foundation for United Nations agencies and governments to formulate standards and programmes for protection against ionizing radiation.

    For the UN Secretary-General's statement on the High Level Meeting on Nuclear Safety and Security go to: http://www.un.org/News/Press/docs//2011/sgsm13834.doc.htm