Japanese Nuclear regulators have finally agreed with a conclusion that nuclear experts around the world arrived at weeks ago, the crisis at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant is critical.
Japan raised its emergency rating from a 5 to a 7, the highest number on the international scale, which is considered a “major accident.” That takes into account the impact on soil, water, air. Radiation has contaminated vegetables, milk and water.
The announcement came less than 24 hours after Japan told people living up to 20 miles from the facility to evacuate. The rating puts Japan’s crisis on an even footing with the Chernobyl nuclear disaster in 1986. Still authorities in Japan downplayed it, saying damage caused by Chernobyl far exceeds Fukushima.
Japanse authorities say Fukushima has released about a tenth of the radiation emitted from Chernobyl, but agreed that if containment is prolonged Dai-ichi will surpass Chernobyl’s emissions.
Miyuki Ichisawa lives about 25 miles away from the nuclear facility. Ichisawa, 52 told the Associated Press, “It’s very shocking to me,” ichisawa operates a coffee shop in Iitate. “Now the government is officially telling us the accident is at the same level of Chernobyl.
Prime Minister Naoto Kan speaking on national television told people not to panic and to focus on recovery. However, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano put it to reporters this way, “This reconfirms that this is an extremely major disaster. We are very sorry to the public, people living near the nuclear complex and the international community for causing such a serious accident.”
Prime Minister Kan giving the public the latest assessment of efforts to gain control of Fukushima said, “Right now, the situation of the nuclear reactors at the Fukushima plant has been stabilizing step by step. Th amount of radiation leaks is on the decline, he said.” “But we are not at the stage yet where we can let our guards down.”
The Fukushima plant was nearly destroyed by a tsunami and earthquake in March. More than a month after, authorities are still trying to locate and, or recover some 15,000 bodies. Upwards of 150,000 people are still living in shelters.
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