Japan's Nuclear Agency Raises Crisis Severity Rating to 'Chernobyl Level'

Damaged Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Facility

After a month of partial and failed fixes to three of the Dai-ichi Fukushima nuclear plants, the  Nuclear Safety Commission of Japan has just now raised the level of severity to ‘7’ — the same rating ascribed to the 1986 Chernobyl disaster. Its previous rating of the disaster’s severity had been ‘5’.

Level 7 represents a “major accident” with “wider consequences” than the lower  level rating, according to the nuclear standards scale.

Although officials estimate that the total radiation leaked is 10% of that emitted at Chernobyl, the widespread nature of the contamination has now prompted the commission to reassess the severity of the situation.

Quoting from the ABC News article that broke the story:

“We have upgraded the severity level to 7 as the impact of radiation leaks has been widespread from the air, vegetables, tap water and the ocean,” said Minoru Oogoda of Japan’s Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency (NISA).

Additionally, the total amount of radioactive particles released into the atmosphere since the crisis began qualify for the more serious level 7 designation.

Sendai, Tōhoku region, post earth quake and tsunami with nuclear facility on fire
An aerial view of tsunami damage in the Tōhoku region (March 12)

The announcement comes just a few hours after a severe after-shock measuring over 6.6 shook the same region  earlier today (PST), and one month to the day after the devastating quake and tsunami of March 11.

The severity level rating scale was designed and implemented by an international panel of nuclear experts and is officiated by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). Level ‘7’ is the highest severity level that a nuclear crisis can merit.

Read the full story: Japan Ups Nuke Crisis Severity to Match Chernobyl

Top image: (Damaged Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Facility); DigitalGlobe-Imagery (website); CC – By – SA 3.0

Bottom image: US NAvy

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