The nuclear crisis in Japan has risen to the level of Chernobyl?


Japanese authorities have raised the severity rating of the nuclear crisis at the highest level - now it is seven. The decision reflects the total release of radiation at the damaged Fukushima Daiichi power plant, which the state continues to slowly deteriorate. The seventh level of severity of the disaster was previously registered only in 1986 at Chernobyl, where radiation emissions were allocated the size of 10 units.

Prime Minister Naoto Kan said the radiation leak at the plant was reduced. According to information provided to the news conference, the operator of the equipment company Tokyo Electric Power Co (Tepco) should soon provide a special program in order to keep the situation under control. "Gradually, the reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant are moving into a state of stability," - he said. The station has not been no deaths, and the level of risk to the health of the people working at Fukushima, estimated by experts as a low.

Meanwhile, an earthquake the size of 6 points that occurred on Tuesday made the station operator to evacuate its staff. There was no other damage noted. Strong aftershocks followed the earthquake and tsunami that hit a month ago in the north-eastern part of Japan, killing 13,228 people and 14,529 people are still missing. More than 150,000 people were left homeless.

Nuclear Safety Commission of Japan said in a statement that the level of the crisis at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant rose, adding that this was a preliminary assessment, which requires further technical evaluation specialists. Level seven, as reported by the representatives, means "strong accident with wider consequences" than those that relate to the previous level.

"We have changed the level of severity of the disaster, raising it to seven, based on the impact that has had a leaking radiation into the air, food, water and the ocean" - said Minoru Oogoda (Minoru Oogoda), a representative of the Agency’s Nuclear and Industrial Safety in Japan (Nisa) .

Reporting on the decision of the Commission, the agency IAEA noted that the prior of the accident, which stood at five, provided for separately for accidents at reactors 1, 2 and 3, but now has been set for a single accident, in general. Other damaged device, reactor number 4, retained its level of complexity equal to three marks.

One of the officials of the company "Tepco", as reported by the news agency "Reuters", said the leak has not yet stopped completely and may ultimately exceed the level of Chernobyl. However, representatives of the Nuclear Safety Agency told reporters that a radiation leak is still low compared to what it was at the power plant in Ukraine, then a member of the Soviet Union.

"In terms of volume of radioactive materials released, our estimate shows that it is about 10% of the amount that was released at Chernobyl" - experts say. The decision to raise the level of threat was made after the general level of radiation at the damaged power plant has reached 630,000 terabekerel. The nuclear crisis has been classified according to the seventh level of the International Nuclear Scale.

Is still not fully clear when this level was reached. The level subsequently fell to less than one terabekerel per hour. For comparison, the Japanese government reported that the release of radiation at Chernobyl was 5.2 million terabekerel.

These indicators are measured in sievert, show that radiation levels do not pose any harm to human health. Difficulty of Japan’s nuclear crisis before equaled five, the same as when the accident at Three Mile Island in the U.S. in 1979.

Cooling systems at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant was damaged last month during a natural disaster, and workers struggled with malfunctions, trying to prevent several reactors from overheating. The representatives warned that it would take several months before the situation at the nuclear power plant will again be fully under control.

Original: BBC Translation: M. Potter

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