The nuclear crisis in Japan is now considered a Level 5, which is how experts classified the 1979 accident at Three Mile Island. The ratings go to seven, and any number above 5 means that the impact has grown to well beyond “local.”
The change in the International scale number does not necessarily signify developments are any worse today than yesterday. However, low levels of radiation have been measured some 140 miles away beyond Tokyo. What experts have deemed as dangerous levels has only been found around the Fukushima Daicchi facility.
Government officials in Japan, for the first time since the tsunami and earthquake, have finally acknowledged that country is indeed facing a crisis and mistakes have been made.
“In hindsight, we could have moved a little quicker in assessing the situation and coordinating all that and provided it faster,” said Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano.
Yukiya Amano, the head of the U.N’s International Atomic Energy Agency put it this way, “we see it as an extremely serious accident.”
Japan was not prepared to handle the 9.0 magnitude quake and tsunami that has wreaked havoc on the country since last week, and its doubtful that any country can handle that size twin natural disaster.
“The unprecedented scale of the earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan, frankly speaking, were among many things that happened that had not been anticipated under our disaster management contingency plans”, said Edano.
Engineers are working around the clock to fix an electric cooling system at the Daiichi plant. It is the most expedient way to cool down a pool of nuclear fuel rods. Workers say the pool in Unit 3 is running dangerously low on water, and without a way to cool it off, the rods will heat and emit radiation like a water fountain.
Attempts to fill up that pool by dumping water out of helicopters and using water cannons has had only limited results.
It truly is a race against time and engineers at the plant remain optimistic that they will get the cooling system back on line within the next 24 hours. Even with a fix, the assessment from experts is that it will take days, possibly weeks to take full control of the facility.
Its highly likely Japan will end up repeating steps taken in Chernobyl, which after cooling down that facility it was encased in concrete.
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