Ranking of Japan’s Nuclear Event updated

Date released: Mar 18 2011

Radioactive material released into environment unlikely to have implications in Ireland.

The Radiological Protection Institute of Ireland (RPII) has today reviewed the latest information on the situation at the Fukushima nuclear power plant in Japan and confirmed its earlier assessment that any radioactive material released from the nuclear plant is extremely unlikely to have implications in Ireland. 

Dr Ann McGarry, Chief Executive at the RPII said: “The situation at the plant is still extremely serious and Japan has updated the ranking of the event from Level 4 to Level 5 on the seven-level International Nuclear Event Scale. The change in ranking reflects the facts that there have been releases of radioactivity into the environment beyond the plant’s site and damage to the reactor cores.” 

“Current weather patterns suggest that radioactive contamination from the Japanese accident will be transported out over the Pacific. Radioactivity released in this way will be dispersed and diluted over the long distance between Japan and Ireland and we do not expect significant levels of radiation to reach Ireland.”   


For further information: 

Murray Consultants          01 498 0346 

Aoibheann O’Sullivan      087 629 14 53

Radiological Protection Institute of Ireland 

Marie Kelly                         269 7766

David Dawson                  206 6913 

Notes to editors: 

Radiological Protection Institute of Ireland (RPII) 

The Radiological Protection Institute of Ireland (RPII) is the national organisation with regulatory, monitoring and advisory responsibilities in matters relating to ionising radiation. In particular, the RPII concerns itself with hazards to health associated with ionising radiation and with radioactive contamination in the environment. The RPII is an independent public body under the aegis of the Department of Environment, Heritage and Local Government and was established in 1992 under the Radiological Protection Act, 1991. The RPII’s role is to ensure that Irish people and the environment are adequately protected from the harmful effects of ionising radiation. We do this by providing advice to the public and the Government, by monitoring people’s exposure to radiation, by regulating and licensing those who use radiation, by providing technical support to Ireland’s plan to deal with radiation emergencies (NEPNA) and by cooperating with similar bodies internationally.

International Nuclear Event Scale 

The International Nuclear Event Scale (INES) is used to communicate the safety significance of nuclear and radiological events to the public. The INES scale is a seven point scale, with Level 1 being the least significant, and Level 7 the most significant. Where an event is classified as Level 0 or ‘below scale’, this means it has no nuclear or radiological safety significance. More information can be found here: http://www-ns.iaea.org/tech-areas/emergency/ines.htm%20    

Iodine tablets 

As of the 17th March, the World Health Organisation (WHO) is cautioning people concerned about the radiation issues in Japan against self-medicating with potassium iodide or taking products containing iodine. More information available here: http://www.who.int/en/    

RPII’s Monitoring Network 

The RPII with support from Met Éireann, local authorities and the Defence Forces operates a national network of permanent radiation-monitoring stations which are operational around the clock. These stations include air samplers and gamma dose rate monitors. Data from the gamma monitors is continuously fed back to a central computer at RPII and displayed here.

This network would provide the first measurements in the event of a radioactive 'cloud' reaching Ireland. If elevated radiation levels are detected, an alarm system is automatically triggered.  


The International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna keeps national authorities informed of nuclear incidents and emergencies under the Emergency Notification Convention. For further information visit http://www.iaea.org/

Department of Foreign Affairs

The Department of Foreign Affairs is providing up to date advice for citizens in Japan. This can be accessed at www.dfa.ie   


Although Ireland has neither nuclear weapons, nor a nuclear power industry we have a detailed National Emergency Plan for Nuclear Accidents, known as NEPNA. The central goal of the plan is to substantially reduce public exposure to any radioactive contamination which might reach Ireland from a nuclear accident abroad. This in turn would minimise the potential long term health risks to the population. The national emergency plan is coordinated by the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government and involves a number of other government departments and agencies working together.

More information on NEPNA is available on: http://www.environ.ie/en/Environment/EnvironmentalRadiation/NationalEmergencyPlan/%20%20

National Emergency Plan for Nuclear Accidents (NEP)