TOKYO (majirox news) – The Japanese government’s nuclear regulators raised the severity level of the crisis at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant Tuesday from 5 to 7. This puts it on par with the 1986 Chernobyl disaster, indicating the amount of radiation released in the accident.
However, the cumulative amount from the plant is about one-tenth that from Chernobyl, said Hidehiko Nishiyama, a safety agency spokesman, at a press conference today.
The plant has been releasing radioactive substances, which are posing a threat to human health and the environment over a wide area.
“The revision was based on cross-checking and assessments of data on leaks of radioactive iodine-131 and cesium-137,” Nishiyama said. He added that unlike Chernobyl there have been no explosions of reactor cores at the Fukushima plant, although there were hydrogen explosions.
Japan’s safety agency estimated the plant had emitted about 370,000 terabecquerels of radioactive materials. But Japan’s nuclear agency believed the number was 630,000 terabecquerels
NHK nuclear expert Mizuno said the amount could go beyond Chernobyl as the reactors are still emitting radiation.
“I’m also puzzled why the two agencies have such different numbers,” he said.
Another expert at TBS asked why the government suddenly released these numbers today.
“How long did they have this information and withheld it?” he said.
Prime Minister Naoto Kan’s press conference
Prime Minister Naoto Kan said in a press conference at 6 p.m. today that Japanese citizens should buy products from the Tohoku area to help the farmers, dairy farmers and fishermen. He added that the government will guarantee their losses. While TEPCO is responsible, he said, the government should get involved to help them recover.
A reporter asked Kan if the government had falsified and withheld important information to Japan and the world. Kan said the government never fabricated or withheld information about the nuclear plant crisis.
Another reporter inferred that Kan should resign. He said there wasn’t any reason to resign.
Kan noted the Japanese should go back to their normal daily lifestyle to help the country recover.
People need to start buying again to stimulate the economy.