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    UNIS/OUS/144
    23 May 2012

    Interim Findings of Fukushima-Daiichi Assessment presented at the Annual Meeting of UNSCEAR

    VIENNA, 23 May (UN Information Service) - Some of the interim findings of a major assessment into the 11 March 2011 Fukushima-Daiichi accident will be made public today after review by international experts attending  the annual meeting of the United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation (UNSCEAR) in Vienna, 21 - 25 May 2012.

    UNSCEAR now has a good understanding of the nature and composition of the releases to the atmosphere from the four damaged reactors, Wolfgang Weiss, Chair of UNSCEAR, said. Together with measurements of radioactive elements in the air, soil, water and food, the study will be able to assess doses to adults and children in different areas of Japan, considering important organs such as the thyroid.

    "We have been given information about measurements made on the thyroids of over 1,000 children in Iitate village, Kawamata town and Iwaki city," said Weiss. "Also, a survey in Fukushima prefecture is aiming to evaluate irradiation levels for some 2 million people living in the prefecture at the time of the accident. The results of the UNSCEAR assessment for these areas will be compared with the Japanese measurements and analysis, and any differences will be highlighted and addressed," said Weiss.

    As of 31 January 2012 a total of 20,115 TEPCO related workers, more than 80 per cent of them contractors, had been involved in operations following the accident at Fukushima-Daiichi. A key point among the interim findings is that although several workers were irradiated after contamination of their skin, no clinically observable effects have been reported. Six workers have died since the accident but none of the deaths were linked to irradiation, the findings say.

    "We are drawing on information from as wide a variety of sources as possible - the purpose of which is to identify any discrepancies," said Weiss. "There is very detailed information so as to assess the public doses but it will be more challenging to validate the workers' exposure," Weiss said.

    "This is still work in progress, our assessment is being conducted with careful scrutiny to ensure its quality, and we have a long way to go yet," said Wolfgang Weiss.

    The assessment about the levels and effects of radiation exposure from the accident is being undertaken for the UN General Assembly and a final report will be presented by UNSCEAR towards the end of 2013.

    The UNSCEAR study is being undertaken by over 70 international scientists assessing four areas: the measurements of radiation and radioactivity; the release and dispersion of radioactive material; exposure of the public and non-human biota; and exposure of workers. The assessment draws on UNSCEAR's experience of conducting similar evaluations, such as of the 1986 Chernobyl accident. Its last report on the Chernobyl accident was published in 2011.

    The Committee also welcomed six new members appointed by the General Assembly: Belarus, Finland, Pakistan, Republic of Korea, Spain, and Ukraine, bringing the total to 27.

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    The mandate of the United Nations Scientific Committee on the effects of Atomic Radiation (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.

    Scientific Committee Members: Wolfgang Weiss, Chair (Germany), Abel González (Argentina), Carl-Magnus Larsson (Australia), Jacov Kenigsberg (Belarus), Hans Vanmarcke (Belgium), Dunstana Melo (Brazil), Beth Pieterson (Canada), Pan Ziqang (China), Talaat Salah El-Din Ahmed (Egypt), Sisko Salomaa (Finland), Alain Rannou (France), Krishna Sainis (India), Susilo Widodo (Indonesia), Yoshiharu Yonekura (Japan), Jaime Aguirre Gómez (Mexico), Mahboob Ali (Pakistan), Alberto Lachos Dávila (Peru), Michael Waligórski (Poland), Seong Ho Na (Republic of Korea), Mikhail Kiselev (Russian Federation), Emil Bédi (Slovakia), María Jesús Muñoz (Spain), Isam Salih Mohamed Musa (Sudan), Leif Moberg (Sweden), Dimitry Bazyka (Ukraine), John Cooper (United Kingdom), and Fred Mettler (United States).

    UNSCEAR secretariat: Malcolm Crick, Ferid Shannoun, Hiroshi Yasuda, Susan Habersack and Anita Brunader.

    Notes to editors:  A press backgrounder is available here.

    Note to reporters: Wolfgang Weiss will be available for interview on Thursday, 24 May 2012.

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    For more information, please contact:

    Anne Thomas
    Information Officer, UNIS Vienna
    Telephone: (+43-1) 26060-5588
    Mobile: (+43-699) 1459-5588
    Email: anne.thomas[at]unvienna.org