Japanese Red Cross Society disaster response and the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant accident

Evaluation and Lessons Learned
Originally published


This case study gives an overview of the Japanese Red Cross Society (JRCS) initial emergency response to the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami (GEJET) which happened on the 11 March 2011. The timeframe covered is approximately 3 weeks during the time of launch of the response and frst phase of the relief period. It also looks at the challenges the Emergency response teams faced after the cascading disaster which triggered the accident at the Fukushima – Daiichi nuclear power plant. Further on it describes the different steps undertaken to address the specifc challenge of a nuclear accident and operating in an environment potentially contaminated with radiation. The case study concludes with results obtained from the experiences and the lessons learned by JRCS for the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) and its member National Societies.

What is a Nuclear emergency?

An emergency is a non-routine situa tion or event that necessitates prompt action, primarily to mitigate a hazard or adverse consequences for human health and safety, quality of life, property or the environment. This includes radiation and conventional emergencies such as fres, release of hazardous chemicals, storms or earthquakes. It includes situations for which prompt action is warranted to miti gate the effects of a perceived hazard.

A Nuclear or radiological emergency is defned as there is, or is perceived to be, a hazard due to:

a) The energy resulting from a nuclear chain reaction or from the decay of the products of a chain reaction; or b) Radiation exposure

Nuclear Power Plant Accident (defnition)


The threat of or release of radioactive contamination extending beyond the facility to a limited or wide geographic area as driven by prevailing weather systems. The overall impact varies given the perceived threat and scope of the event, ranging from temporary and precautionary safety guidance for adjacent areas to protective actions of severely contaminated zones. Local or regional commerce and agriculture may be impacted on either short term or protracted basis. Residential and government initiated precautionary and protective evacuations may ensue. Early detection, effective response procedures and prompt action within the area of impact dramatically reduce the consequences.