The Situation in Japan (Updated 1/25/13)

Department of Energy

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Links to Slideshare - dated May 13, 2011 Subject: Radiological Assessment of effects from Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant

As the situation in Japan continues to evolve, we want to keep you abreast of the latest information on the assistance and expertise we’re providing to the Japanese response and recovery efforts. Please take note of the dates attached to each piece of information, as this is a very fluid situation that is continually evolving.

January 25, 2013

Additional Aerial Data Available

Aerial survey data collected by NNSA March 17-19, 2011 is now available for download. This data was used for the NNSA's initial March 22, 2011 report, and is now available for independent analysis.

August 3, 2012

NNSA Meets with Japanese Scientists to Discuss On-Going Fukushima Work

Scientists from the Japanese Atomic Energy Agency (JAEA) met with colleagues from National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) to work on on-going aerial and ground monitoring efforts following the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in March 2011.

A key element of the meeting was the discussion of detailed analysis techniques which could be applied to the data collected in Japan by the NNSA response teams during the first month following the earthquake and tsunami. The purpose of the analyses is to obtain a better understanding of the radiological conditions during the early response period. The results from these analyses can aid in efforts to model the doses that may have been incurred during the incident. The meeting was held at the NNSA Nevada Site Office in Las Vegas, Nev. In attendance were scientific experts from the NNSA Consequence Management and Aerial Measuring System programs. The NNSA maintains the Aerial Measuring System (AMS) capability to respond to radiological and nuclear incidents in the U.S. The AMS uses specialized radiation detection systems mounted in aircraft to provide real-time measurements of ground contamination. These trained experts are in charge of maintaining a state of readiness to respond to a radiological emergency at any time. The teams are based out of Las Vegas, Nev., Washington, D.C., and Aiken, S.C.

Health Physics Cover

April 23, 2012

Health Physics journal features U.S. radiological response to Fukushima accident

Dan Blumenthal, NNSA Consequence Management program manager, and Steve Musolino, Brookhaven National Laboratory health physicist, have contributed as special editors of the May 2012 issue of Health Physics, the journal of the Health Physics Society. The special issue of the journal is devoted to the overview of U.S. radiological response to the Fukushima accident, both in Japan and in the U.S. The issue highlights an overview of DOE/NNSA's response: modeling; aerial and ground surveys; home team challenges; and the range of data assessment and products.

The issue contains 15 articles and commentaries, nine of which come from DOE/NNSA (two from NNSA and seven from NNSA national laboratories), two from DoD, one from EPA, two from HHS, and one from the states giving their perspective.

To see the journal.

In the seven months since the March 11 earthquake and tsunami in Japan, the Energy Department and the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) have worked diligently to support the government of Japan as it collects, monitors and analyzes the data from aerial and ground-based surveys measuring radiation levels associated with material deposited on the ground surrounding the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station.   

The Energy Department and NNSA have provided ongoing assistance to Japan to support dose assessment through collaboration on data analysis and quality control. NNSA also loaned the Government of Japan an aerial radiation detection system to augment its capability.

For 10 weeks following the natural disaster, NNSA scientists utilized U.S. Air Force aircraft operated out of Yokota Air Base to collect data during more than 500 flight hours. NNSA scientists also collected thousands of field and soil samples.  The raw data collected and analyzed from those flights and surveys are now available for public download and review on here, here, here, and here. The above map visualizes the field measurements collected by the Energy Department in the area around the nuclear power station.  Click on a point to see a chart of the measurements collected in that area.

A small NNSA team returned to Japan this month to provide further data collection and analysis support as the Japanese plan another aerial monitoring campaign. Check back in the coming month for information about this survey.

May 13, 2011

In March, the U.S. Department of Energy released data recorded from its Aerial Measuring System as well as ground detectors deployed along with its Consequence Management Response Teams. Today, the Department provided the following update on the information gathered by the AMS. This data that was collected and analyzed jointly with the Government of Japan's Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT). For a link to the joint monitoring data posted on May 6, visit the MEXT webpage.

File footage of the Aerial Measuring System

Radiation monitoring data updates:

May 13, 2011 - View the data (Download)

May 6, 2011 - View the data (Download)

April 22, 2011 - View the data (Download)

April 18, 2011 - View the data (Download)

April 7, 2011 - View the data (Download)

April 4, 2011 - View the data (Download)

March 29, 2011 -  View the data (Download)

March 25, 2011 - View the data (Download)

March 22, 2011 - View the data (Download)

May 02, 2011

The recent events impacting the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station in Japan demonstrated that, while unlikely, a worst-case scenario event - an event beyond the design basis - is not impossible. Safety is a critical element of the Department of Energy's mission, and to ensure that we fully evaluate all available information from our assessment of Department of Energy facilities and the lessons-learned from our continuing review of the Japan event, Deputy Secretary Poneman is convening a Department of Energy Nuclear Safety Workshop on June 6 - 7, 2011, in Arlington, Virginia.

March 18, 2011

JOINT EPA/DOE STATEMENT: Radiation Monitors Confirm That No Radiation Levels of Concern Have Reached the United States

WASHINGTON – The United States Government has an extensive network of radiation monitors around the country and no radiation levels of concern have been detected. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency RadNet system is designed to protect the public by notifying scientists, in near real time, of elevated levels of radiation so they can determine whether protective action is required. The EPA’s system has not detected any radiation levels of concern.

In addition to EPA’s RadNet system, the U.S. Department of Energy has radiation monitoring equipment at research facilities around the country, which have also not detected any radiation levels of concern.

As part of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty Organization’s International Monitoring System (IMS), the Department of Energy also maintains the capability to detect tiny quantities of radioisotopes that might indicate an underground nuclear test on the other side of the world. These detectors are extremely sensitive and can detect minute amounts of radioactive materials.

Today, one of the monitoring stations in Sacramento, California that feeds into the IMS detected miniscule quantities of iodine isotopes and other radioactive particles that pose no health concern at the detected levels. Collectively, these levels amount to a level of approximately 0.0002 disintegrations per second per cubic meter of air (0.2 mBq/m3). Specifically, the level of Iodine-131 was 0.165 mBq/m3, the level of Iodine-132 was measured at 0.03 mBq/m3, the level of Tellurium-132 was measured at 0.04 mBq/m3, and the level of Cesium-137 was measured at 0.002 mBq/m3.

Similarly, between March 16 and 17, a detector at the Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Washington State detected trace amounts of Xenon-133, which is a radioactive noble gas produced during nuclear fission that poses no concern at the detected level. The levels detected were approximately 0.1 disintegrations per second per cubic meter of air (100 mBq/m3).

The doses received by people per day from natural sources of radiation - such as rocks, bricks, the sun and other background sources - are 100,000 times the dose rates from the particles and gas detected in California or Washington State.

These types of readings remain consistent with our expectations since the onset of this tragedy, and are to be expected in the coming days.

Following the explosion of the Chernobyl plant in Ukraine in 1986 – the worst nuclear accident in world history – air monitoring in the United States also picked up trace amounts of radioactive particles, less than one thousandth of the estimated annual dose from natural sources for a typical person.

As part of the federal government’s continuing effort to make our activities and science transparent and available to the public, the Environmental Protection Agency will continue to keep all RadNet data available in the current online database.

Please see for more information.

March 17, 2011

3/17/11: White House Press Briefing
Deputy Secretary Poneman joined U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) Chairman Gregory Jaczkon to provide a status update on the situation in Japan during the daily White House Press Briefing.Transcript

March 16, 2011

Secretary Chu provided an update on the Energy's role in the process during a Congressional hearing:

"Officials from the Department of Energy, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, and other agencies have maintained close contact with Japanese officials and have provided the Japanese government with expertise in a variety of areas.

As part of that effort, the Department of Energy has sent two experts to Japan to provide advice and technical assistance.

We are positioning Consequence Management Response Teams at U.S. Consulates and military installations in Japan. These teams have the skills, expertise and equipment to help assess, survey, monitor and sample areas. They include smaller groups that could be sent out to gather technical information in the area.

We have sent our Aerial Measuring System capability, including detectors and analytical equipment used to provide assessments of contamination on the ground.

In total, the DOE team includes 39 people with more than 17,000 pounds of equipment.

The Department is also monitoring activities through the DOE Nuclear Incident Team and is employing assets at its National Laboratories to provide ongoing predictive atmospheric modeling capabilities based on a variety of scenarios.

The American people should have full confidence that the United States has rigorous safety regulations in place to ensure that our nuclear power is generated safely and responsibly. Information is still coming in about the events unfolding in Japan, but the Administration is committed to learning from Japan's experience as we work to continue to strengthen America's nuclear industry.

Safety remains at the forefront of our effort to responsibly develop America's energy resources, and we will continue to incorporate best practices and lessons learned into that process."

Deputy Secretary Poneman participated in a special press briefing with Under Secretary for Management at the State Department Pat Kennedy regarding the situation in Japan. You can listen to the full briefing and review the transcript courtesy of

March 14, 2011

3/14/11: White House Press Briefing
Deputy Secretary Poneman joined U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) Chairman Gregory Jaczkon to provide additional details on the situation in Japan during the White House Press Briefing.Transcript

Late afternoon on Monday, March 14, 2011, the Department of Energy and the National Nuclear Security Administration deployed 33 people and more than 17,200 pounds of equipment - including Consequence Management Response Teams and NNSA Aerial Measuring Systems - to Japan in response to the recent earthquake and tsunami. You can view photos and video from the deployment below.

DOE and NNSA Response Teams Leave for Japan to Provide Assistance

How You Can Help
USAID is coordinating the overall U.S. government efforts in support of the Japanese government’s response to the earthquakes and subsequent tsunami. Visit for information about supporting the response efforts.