While the situation has begun to stabilize as the damaged Fukushima Daiichi reactor in Japan, new data has surfaced showing that the radiation levels released were significantly higher than previously thought. With the release of this new information, the disaster has been reclassified to a category 7 on the International Nuclear Event Scale. This is the highest level possible – the same category as the Chernobyl disaster. Read on for more developments.
While officials are acknowledging that the recent disaster in Japan was comparable to the notorious nuclear meltdown in Chernobyl, they are cautioning the public against renewed fears. While the rating has gone up, the condition has not suddenly worsened. This increase in severity is in regards to the prior leaks of radiation, largely from the first few days of the disaster.
Regulators have come to the conclusion that the volume of radioactive iodine released was nearly 15 times level required to reach level 7, the top, of the INES. Fortunately that is still roughly 10 percent of the amount released at Chernobyl.
As it stands today, blueprints are underway (and due in June) for the reconstruction of the damaged facility but TEPCO (Japan’s nuclear regulatory agency) appears to be no closer to activating the cooling systems. That isn’t to say there has not been improvement, portable equipment is preventing a meltdown and future explosions from occurring, but it doesn’t look like they’ll be activating the facility any time soon regardless of the blueprint publication deadline.
According to Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano, there have been no radiation related deaths since the catastrophic earthquake and only 21 plant workers have shown signs of radiation sickness.
As this new data is being analyzed we will be keeping our ears to the ground, and promise to keep you continually informed.