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Posted on on September 16th, 2011
by Pincas Jawetz (

U.N. faults Japan for weak crisis prep: Says according to Kyodo – Projections for nuclear accidents were “too modest”…
Friday, Sep. 16, 2011

Hazardous cargo: A cylinder filled with highly radioactive waste reprocessed in Britain is transferred to a vehicle at the port of Rokkasho, Aomori Prefecture, on Thursday. KYODO PHOTO

News photo

NEW YORK — The United Nations says Japan was “too modest” in projecting potential accidents at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant before the March 11 earthquake and tsunami crippled the facility.

“The principal lesson of the Fukushima accident is that assumptions made concerning which types of accident were possible or likely were too modest,” the United Nations said in a report released Wednesday on the nuclear crisis.

“Those assumptions should be reviewed for all existing and planned reactors, and the possible effects of climate change should be taken into account,” the report says.

The report was compiled by 16 U.N. organizations, including the International Atomic Energy Agency, the World Health Organization and the Food and Agricultural Organization.

It was prepared for a high-level meeting on nuclear safety and security to be held Sept. 22 during the U.N. General Assembly.

The report calls for the IAEA to “establish a global radiation monitoring platform to display real-time data on radioactive releases and integrate data from international and national monitoring and early warning systems.”

It also proposes that the preparatory commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization “provide its expertise and radionuclide data for that purpose.”

The report says the Fukushima accident also has implications for nuclear security as both accident and sabotage could cause similar problems “through the loss of power, communications, computer, safety and physical protection systems, and the loss of key operating, safety and security personnel.”

The report strongly calls for facilitating “coordinated support to national, regional and international food and agriculture response planning to nuclear emergency.”

“Contaminated areas may not be able to grow crops or support livestock grazing as a result of the persistence of radionuclides such as cesium-137 for decades,” it says.

A nuclear accident could have an impact on food trade, “which arises not only from imposed food restrictions in certain areas, but also from consumers’ reluctance to consume some foods because of public fears of radioactive contamination,” it says.

In its reference to the risks that climate change pose to nuclear power plants, the report says climate- and weather-related risks for nuclear power plants are “not insurmountable” as knowhow and technologies can significantly reduce or eliminate them.

The report expresses appreciation for Japan’s measures on public health, saying steps to protect public health were quickly implemented and residents in the affected areas were evacuated in a timely manner.

But the report adds: “Physical and prolonged stress among the evacuees has had significant health impacts.

“The disruption in their lives, breakdown of social contacts, long detention at evacuation sites with little privacy and crowded conditions, and sharp changes in their social environment have all contributed to grave stress, causing mental trauma.”

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