Fukushima radiation approaches Chernobyl levels

Officials say it could be several months before Japan's nuclear crisis is under control

Japanese authorities have raised the severity rating of the Fukushima nuclear crisis to its highest level of seven, which was previously applied to the Chernobyl nuclear disaster and signifies a “major accident” with “wider consequences.” While a Tepco official said that radiation leaks could eventually exceed those at the Ukrainian plant, a nuclear safety agency spokesman said that the leaks remain small in comparison, or “about 10 per cent of what was released by Chernobyl.” The decision to raise the severity level was made after the total radiation at the plant had registered at up to 630,000 terabequerels. In comparison, radiation at Chernobyl reached 5.2 million terabecquerels. “We have upgraded the severity level to seven,” said Minoru Oogoda of Japan’s Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency, “as the impact of radiation leaks has been widespread from the air, vegetables, tap water and the ocean.” Japanese officials have warned that it could take several months before the situation at Fukushima is under control, and Tepco, who operates the plant, has said it would release a schedule for doing so.

BBC News

Looking for more?

Get the Best of Maclean's sent straight to your inbox. Sign up for news, commentary and analysis.