REF2014 Impact Case Study: Enhancing public understanding of nuclear safety issues following the Fukushima nuclear accident

    Impact: Environmental Impacts

    Description of impact

    Major public communication activities by Professor Jim Smith on the immediate and long-term consequences of the Fukushima accident helped elevate and inform the debate on the risks and consequences of nuclear power. During the weeks after Fukushima, Smith made a key contribution to the developing scientific understanding of the likely consequences of the accident and to the worldwide dissemination of that understanding.

    Who is affected

    Public understanding


    The communication of complex scientific issues surrounding controversial technologies has long been identified as of key importance in the public debate over their acceptance and regulation. Major concerns over science communication of GM and nuclear waste disposal were the key drivers of the influential House of Lords Science and Technology Select Committee year 2000 report on Science and Society which led to the establishment of the Science Media Centre (SMC). Smith’s media work with the SMC, and direct public engagement activities on nuclear issues, have made an outstanding contribution to the scientific community’s public response to the Fukushima accident and to public understanding of nuclear and radiation risk issues in general.
    Impact statusOpen
    Category of impactEnvironmental Impacts
    Impact levelBenefit (delivered impact)


    • Fukushima
    • nuclear power
    • public engagement


    • REF2014