Japan Raises Nuclear Severity to Level 5, Power Line Near Fukushima Plant Almost Reconnected

03/18/2011
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TOKYO (majirox news) – Japan’s severity rating of the country’s Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear crisis was raised from Level 4 to Level 5 on a 7 Level International Nuclear Event Scale, Ryohei Shiomi, a spokesman for the nuclear safety agency, said Friday, putting it on par with the Three Mile Island accident in Pennsylvania in 1979.

The scale defines a Level 4 incident as having local consequences and a Level 5 incident as having wider consequences. Normally, a Level 5 emergencies are severe damage to a reactor core, release of large quantities of radiation with a high probability of “significant” public exposure or several deaths from radiation.

The Chernobyl accident of 1986, which killed at least 31 people with radiation sickness, raised long-term cancer rates, and spewed radiation for hundreds of kilometers, was ranked a Level 7.

France’s Nuclear Safety Authority has been saying since Tuesday that the crisis in northeastern Japan should be ranked Level 6 on the scale

Shiomi declined to give other details

UPDATE: Edano news conference on power line, IAEA
At a news conference at 11 a.m. (local time) Yukio Edano, the government’s top spokesman, said the priority for plant operators is to finish a new power line that could restore cooling systems and ease the crisis. Japanese engineers are attempting to connect a 1-kilometer long power cable from the main grid to restart the water pumps in order to cool down reactor No. 2.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the United Nations’ nuclear watchdog, continues to liaise with Japanese officials and is monitoring the situation as it evolves.

The Tokyo Fire Department’s 30 special fire engines arrived in Iwaki City in Fukushima prefecture about 10 a.m. and preparing to spray water into the reactors, particular reactor No.3. The Hyper Special Rescue Team, which is a elite search and rescue unit, left Tokyo at 3 this morning.

Ever since last Friday’s earthquake, nuclear plant workers have scrambled to prevent fuel in the reactors from overheating.

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