Environmental Emergency Research Programs

Immediately after the Great East Japan Earthquake and Fukushima nuclear disaster, the National Institute for Environmental Studies (NIES) undertook disaster-related environmental research, and has thereby contributed to recover and create the environment of the devastated areas. Based on this accumulated research outcome, and using as a research hub the NIES Fukushima Branch, which was established in the Fukushima Prefectural Centre for Environmental Creation, this program conducts "environmental recovery research," "environmental renovation research," and "environmental emergency management research" in collaboration with Fukushima Prefecture, the Japan Atomic Energy Agency, other related institutions in Japan and abroad, stakeholders, and other entities. In addition to contributing to environmental recovery in the devastated areas, the program indicates paths leading to restoration and environmental creation, and contributes to create a disaster-resilient society based on the lessons of the Great East Japan Earthquake and other major disasters.

Environmental Recovery Research Program

This program is conducting research and development for volume reduction and other technologies for the purpose of intermediate storage and permanent disposal of radioactively contaminated waste, which is an urgent task of the highest priority for the nation. It will also carry out research and development for technological solutions to problems related to the processing and disposal of designated wastes and other wastes. Additionally, the program will conduct studies and research from a long-term perspective on the environmental fate of radioactive substances remaining in forests, bodies of water, and other environments. Further, it will perform long-term environmental impact assessments in places where residents have returned, develop living environment risk-management methods to secure a livelihood platform where people can live safely and free of concern, and implement ecosystem assessments that include ecosystem services.

Environmental Renovation Research Program

This program will carry out research to support community reconstruction and development mainly in Fukushima Prefecture and its municipalities, primarily in the prefecture’s Hamadori region. For this purpose, the program will build an integrated social monitoring system that quantifies the effectiveness of reconstruction in terms of livelihoods and the environment, and it will propose systematic measures aimed at achieving sustainable communities. Through means including support for the design of locally-optimized distributed energy systems in central districts, the program will carry out research that supports community development and matches it well with the overall regional reconstruction plan. The program will also develop an integrated assessment model for developing future visions and investigating policy measures for municipalities, and build future scenarios in which industrial development, community development, environmental conservation, and other efforts are harmonized with one another. Further, the program will develop methods for communication among stakeholders for restored communities, which incorporate diverse local needs including livelihoods and a sound environment.

Environmental Emergency Management Research Program

To contribute to the development of a strategy to improve disaster resilience of material cycle and waste management system, this program will devise integrated technologies and systems for disaster waste management aimed at achieving smooth and appropriate management of disaster wastes. Additionally, with the aim of creating a strategy to manage the environmental and health risks associated with disasters, the program will investigate approaches for setting risk management targets when disasters strike and the methods and organizational arrangements for emergency environmental surveys. Further, for the purpose of building a research core for the environmental emergency research network, the program will design and develop an information platform pertaining to the environmental emergency research field and a capacity development system for the environmental emergency.