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The Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear AccidentAn Overview

Thielen, Harald

Health Physics:
doi: 10.1097/HP.0b013e31825b57ec

Abstract: The Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident on 11 March 2011 was a consequence of the 9.0 magnitude Tōhoku earthquake and the following tsunami. A series of ongoing equipment failures in several units of the power plant led to releases of radioactive material into the atmosphere and the seawater. Based on these emissions, the accident was regarded as a level 7 (major accident) on the International Nuclear and Radiological Event Scale (INES). The emissions caused significant radiation and isotope concentrations measured in the environment by involved institutions. Measurements were performed on different media like soil, water, and foodstuffs. Based on these monitoring data, the authorities in Japan implemented emergency measures to protect the population of the region. These measures were, for example, evacuating the people from the zone where high gamma dose rates were detected or banning contaminated foodstuffs with respect to existing limit values. Direct and indirect effects of the releases in Japan could also be observed in Europe. However, it should be noted that the measured values were far below those values that could affect human health.

Author Information

Gesellschaft für Anlagen-und Reaktorsicherheit (GRS) mbH.

The author declares no conflict of interest.

For correspondence contact: Harald Thielen, Schwertnergasse 1, 50667 Köln, Germany, or email at

(Manuscript accepted 19 April 2012)

©2012Health Physics Society