Nuclear accident in Japan

The earthquake and tsunami in Japan on 11th March 2011 led to an accident at the Fukushima nuclear power plant.  Below are links to our press releases and some questions, asked by the public, and answers by us.

Environmental monitoring programme

Rigorous and continuous testing is carried out to ensure that environmental radiation remains within internationally agreed and legal safety limits. These tests ensure that we are quickly aware of any change in environmental radiation in Ireland, and able to provide any necessary advice to the public and Government.

The key elements of the monitoring programme are:

  • Assessment of ambient radioactivity based on measurements of radioactivity in air and of external gamma dose rate from a network of permanent monitoring stations located throughout the country
  • Assessment of levels of radioactivity in a variety of food products and drinking water
  • Assessment of levels of radioactivity in the Irish marine environment based on sampling and measurement of seawater, sediment, seaweed, fish and shellfish

The programme combines round-the-clock measurements from the permanent monitoring network and a programme of sampling followed by laboratory testing.

Published report on the impact on Ireland

A comprehensive assessment of the impact on Ireland of the 2011 Fukushima nuclear accident was published in 2012. The report provides a summary of the events which led to the accident at the nuclear power plant and of the impact on Ireland of the resulting releases of radioactivity. It constitutes a comprehensive record and single point of reference for all of the data generated by the additional environmental monitoring which was performed in Ireland.

The following are the results of our environmental monitoring at the time of the Fukushima Accident

Gamma dose rate data:

Data from the gamma monitors is continuously fed back to a central computer at the EPA and displayed on our website.

No elevated results were expected or were detected on this network – the dose rate of the radioactivity from the Fukushima accident is within the normal variation in background levels.

Air monitoring data:

The air monitoring results contain a statement on the results and a brief discussion about the data.

Rainwater monitoring data:

The rainwater monitoring results contain a statement on the results and a brief discussion about the data.

Milk monitoring data:

The milk monitoring results contain a statement on the results and a brief discussion about the data.  

The following are links to press releases issued at the time of the accident:

The following are questions asked by the public and answered by our experts at the time of the Fukushima accident.

Should I be concerned about radiation from Japan detected in Ireland?

No. While the nuclear accident in Japan is extremely serious its impact has been on the areas around the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear site. Trace amounts of radioactivity from the Japanese accident have been detected in Ireland but the levels are so low as to be of no health concern. The detection of these trace levels reflects the sensitivity of the monitoring equipment.   

Are any precautions being taken in relation to food contamination?

The Food Safety of Authority of Ireland has stated that in line with European Union measures to limit possible risks to food safety, Ireland is adopting controls on imports of food and feed from certain localities in Japan, where production could be affected by the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.  This EU legislation, which came into effect on March 27th, will require foods that are imported from Japan to be certified by the Japanese authorities as well as being subject to random testing on arrival in the EU.

In addition, we will continue to routinely monitor levels of radioactivity in foodstuffs, including milk produced in Ireland.

What radiation monitoring capacity does Ireland have?

Ireland has a network of permanent radiation monitoring stations distributed across the country.  The monitoring stations continuously measure gamma radiation and if elevated radiation levels are detected, an alarm system is automatically triggered.

In addition, a network of air and rainwater sampling systems are operated. These systems are designed to detect radioactivity at levels far below those that could have health impacts. The monitoring at these stations has been intensified. 

I have just returned from Tokyo, do I need to be screened?

No. As of the latest information there has been no significant contamination detected in Tokyo so there is no need for screening or other precautions.

Should I take iodine tablets?

No. Iodine tablets are only of use to some people if taken before or immediately following exposure to radioactive iodine. While radioactive iodine has been released from the stricken Japanese nuclear power plants the release was local to the plant, and while trace amounts of radio-iodine have reached Ireland, the levels are very low and are far below those that would require iodine tablets or other protective actions.

I have family in Japan, what should they do?

Irish citizens in Japan should observe the advice being given by Japanese authorities, including the 20 km exclusion zone around the Fukushima facility, and that residents between 20-30 km of the facility should remain indoors, keep windows and doors closed and not use ventilation.

Learn More

View local information

Avoid all travel to the affected area.

Additional advice is available on the website of the Irish Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade

I am planning to visit Japan shortly, what should I do?

Refer to the website of the Irish Department of Foreign Affairs for travel advice

I import non-food goods from Japan, is there any risk to people who handle them?

If the goods were produced and shipped before March 11th or if they were produced and packed at a location outside the 20 km evacuation zone surrounding the Fukishima nuclear power plant there is no significant contamination risk.