Nuclear release and radioactivity
FAO helps member countries prepare and respond to threats of radioactive contamination of food and the agricultural environment. The Organization subscribes to international conventions, allowing information sharing and prompt assistance for nuclear or radiological emergencies. It shares UN responsibilities in planning a response to actual, potential or perceived nuclear or radiological threats.
FAO works with the Joint FAO/International Atomic Energy Agency Division in Vienna, where the Organization’s Special Emergency Programmes Service is the focal point in response to a nuclear incident.
FAO has established a Nuclear Emergencies Crisis Network of Technical Experts, with members drawn from 11 units across the Organization, representing technical divisions and information specialists. FAO takes part in international exercises simulating nuclear incidents, to help improve preparedness. Its involvement is expected to increase over time.
In 2011, Japan was hit by a massive earthquake, followed by a tsunami, which killed thousands of people and caused significant property, infrastructure and crop loss. Damaged nuclear power plants released radiation in the country. The United Nations system responded as and where requested by the Government of Japan. FAO and the World Health Organization published frequently asked questions to food safety concerns following the emergency.