On March 11, 2011, the Great East Japan Earthquake triggered a severe nuclear accident at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant in Japan. The accident culminated in significant releases of radioactive contaminants into the environment beginning March 12, 2011. The emissions were of significant domestic concern in Japan and resulted in low but measurable levels of radioactive contaminants world-wide.
The following text provides a summary of the monitoring and assessment undertaken by Health Canada in response to the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident.
The damaged nuclear power reactors in Japan do not pose a health risk to residents of British Columbia or the rest of Canada.
The Government of Canada is committed to protecting the health and safety of Canadians. To this effect, Health Canada's Radiation Protection Bureau has been monitoring environmental radioactivity on a routine basis since 1959. It currently operates two radioactivity monitoring networks which represent a total of over 100 detection and sampling stations located all over Canada. One of these networks is part of a larger global radiation monitoring network overseen by the United Nation's Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty Organisation. These networks are extremely sensitive and can provide an indication of any potential problem with respect to radioactivity in air and precipitation.
For recent information on radiation monitoring in Canada, data from Health Canada's networks can be found on the Radiation Dose Data from the Fixed Point Surveillance Network page.
Health Canada continues to monitor and review radiation levels in Canada and worldwide, using its monitoring networks and its collaborative relationships with the international community. Measurements from Health Canada's networks confirm that the quantities of radioactive materials that reached Canada as a result of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident were very small and did not pose any health risk to Canadians. Should data from our monitoring programs indicate a need for additional efforts, Health Canada will promptly notify the Public Health authorities (including provincial authorities) of the situation and provide guidance on how to best address the issue/concern.
Health Canada does not currently have its own monitoring program for measuring radionuclides in ocean water. However, Health Canada is reviewing data on radionuclide concentrations in ocean water from other reputable organizations, including the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, the International Atomic Energy Agency and Japan's Nuclear Regulation Authority. Data from these sources indicate that radionuclide levels in the North Pacific resulting from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident are so low that they are well below drinking water guidelines and are not of concern to public health.
Food safety issues are a joint responsibility between the Provincial authorities and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) which regulates food producers. Health Canada is actively supporting the CFIA in its mandate for food safety which includes ensuring that radiation levels in food are below levels of concern. Details can be found on the CFIA website. For questions regarding food safety, please contact the CFIA.
For information on the debris from the Japan tsunami, please consult the Tsunami Debris Coordinating Committee.
For questions regarding regulation of the nuclear industry in Canada, please contact the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission at firstname.lastname@example.org
Information on the status of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station, as published by Japan's Nuclear Regulation Authority, is available through the International Atomic Energy Agency.
For information on radiation monitoring in the United States, please consult the US Environmental Protection Agency. Information on marine debris is also available from the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
For more information, contact us or call 1-800 O-Canada.