“Nuclear Emergency Relief Activities Manual” Prepared

The Japanese Red Cross Society (JRCS) has prepared a “Manual on Conducting Relief Activities in a Nuclear Emergency” which establishes guidelines on safe operational limits. Going forward, training will be provided to relief personnel on safety practices and procedures in a nuclear emergency.

Provision of relief activities in response to a nuclear emergency had not been foreseen by the JRCS previously. As a result, during the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant Accident (“Fukushima Daiichi”), operational limits to guarantee safety had not been established and the necessary safety equipment was not on hand. This resulted in a forced retraction of some of JRCS medical teams from the disaster-stricken areas and hindered the provision of relief during the incident. This manual has been prepared to mitigate against similar issues in future.

The manual explains that relief activities are restricted to areas not designated as “mandatory evacuation zones” by the government and the radiation exposure of individual relief members are “capped to not exceed 1 millisievert.”*

Operational guidelines have been established, which include measures such as the inclusion of radiological technologists with relief teams were possible; and the issuance of personal dosimeters, protective clothing, and iodine tablets to relief personnel.

In addition, to conduct relief activities safely and appropriately in areas of high radiation, “Radiation Exposure Medial Advisor Teams,” comprised of a medical doctor and a radiological technologist, will be dispatched to the local chapter of the JRCS of the affected area, as well as the nuclear emergency response headquarters located at the JRCS head office. These medical advisors will be pre-appointed and provide training on safety measures to relief personnel.

Separately, when requested by central and local governments in the event of a nuclear emergency, the following 10 institutions (as of March 2013) will provide radiation exposure medical services, the:
seven Red Cross hospitals designated as “Radiation Exposure Medical Facility” located near nuclear power plants,
Japanese Red Cross Hiroshima Genbaku Hospital (a facility with expertise in treating radiation injuries),
Japanese Red Cross Nagasaki Genbaku Hospital, and
Japanese Red Cross Fukushima Hospital (a facility which gained experience from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant accident)

* Average annual exposure to radiation in Japan is 1.48 millisieverts

(PHOTO) Relief teams assisting in the temporary return home of residents around the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant (May 2011).