Society News Archive

11 September 2015
Fukushima Accident Report Issued

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has publicly released The Fukushima Daiichi Accident, a report by the Director General along with five technical volumes on this topic by international experts.

The report assesses the causes and consequences of the 11 March 2011 accident at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant in Japan, triggered by a tsunami that followed a massive earthquake. It was the worst emergency at a nuclear power plant since the Chernobyl disaster in 1986.

"The report considers human, organizational and technical factors and aims to provide an understanding of what happened, and why, so that the necessary lessons learned can be acted upon by governments, regulators and nuclear power plant operators throughout the world," IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano said in his Foreword to the Report. "There can be no grounds for complacency about nuclear safety in any country."

The report states that "[a]n increase in thyroid cancer among children is unlikely" after the meltdown at Fukushima in March 2011. Increased thyroid cancer is generally the leading health concern after catastrophic nuclear reactor accidents such as at Chernobyl and the Fukushima Daiichi plant. The IAEA stated, "Because the reported thyroid doses attributable to the accident were generally low, an increase in childhood thyroid cancer attributable to the accident is unlikely."

The only caveat was that estimates of thyroid equivalent doses incurred immediately after the accident are uncertain, owing to a lack of reliable personal radiation monitoring data. Detailed screening of children's thyroid glands is being done now in Japan; this will possibly increase the number of children diagnosed with thyroid abnormalities, but if so, this would be due to detection of nodules at smaller sizes.