Exactly How Bad is the Nuclear Crisis in Japan? Experts Disagree on the Severity

by , 03/16/11

Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, japan nuclear power, nuclear power, japan nuclear crisis, japan nuclear disaster

While nuclear energy experts disagree on just how bad the situation is at Japan’s stricken nuclear plants, there is one thing that they are all certain of: things could get worse. Over the last few days, various media reports about the nuclear crisis have shown that the only certainty is uncertainty. Yesterday’s explosion and fire at Fukushima Dai-ichi heightened concerns and precautions, but the long term effects are still hard to pin down.

Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, japan nuclear power, nuclear power, japan nuclear crisis, japan nuclear disaster

The International Nuclear and Radiological Event Scale (INES) ranks incidents from Level 1 — the lowest, meaning their is very little threat to the general population — to Level 7, the highest, meaning that a major accident has occurred, large amounts of radioactive material have been released, and their will be widespread health and environmental issues.

A French nuclear official told CNN that he believes yesterday’s complications put the situation just below Chernobyl on the INES, making it a “serious accident” with major concerns. “It’s clear we are at Level 6, that’s to say we’re at a level in between what happened at Three Mile Island and Chernobyl,” said Andre-Claude Lacoste, president of France’s nuclear safety authority.

In 1986, a nuclear reactor at a plant in Chernobyl exploded. Thirty people died and hundreds more became sick. It should be made clear, though, that the reactor had no protective vessel like the plants do in Japan. The meltdown at Three Mile Island caused no sickness, and only trace amounts of radiation were found in plants and animals.

Immediately after the earthquake hit and the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant experienced problems, the International Atomic Energy Agency said the situation was a Level 4, which classifies as a minor release of radioactive material and only food should be tested for contamination. After yesterday’s development, the IAEA did not give a rating, but the Japanese chief of the IAEA insisted there was no comparison to Chernobyl.

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  1. Quentin Knight-Page June 12, 2011 at 1:15 am

    There are so many nuclear issues in the world today, from ‘micro-wave'(mobile phones) ionization of the very carbon13 and carbon 14 in our own body,(and many other isotopes) a legacy of N Testing, of industrial and medical usages and of experimental production; not to mention the pollutions of ecosphere wrought by heavy isotopes, which cannot be undone, or inanely swept under the carpet. And still, the best policy appears to be silence. I wonder where this is all heading, and to what extent it is deemed necessary.

  2. kdel March 18, 2011 at 5:34 pm

    False–there are illnesses at Three Mile Island–the government and medical establishment refuses to study illnesses–only studies on deaths immediately following the accident were done. I have family and friends who stayed (I left) and they have rare cancers, or common cancers that are aggressive and other illnesses such as thyroid issues (which is a target of radiation.). The more people keep saying “there weer no illnesses at TMI” without verifying their facts will not make it true.

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