Japanese Nuclear Crisis Upgraded to Chernobyl Level

Illustration for article titled Japanese Nuclear Crisis Upgraded to Chernobyl Level

The badly damaged Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant has been upgraded from 5 to 7 on the International Nuclear and Radiological Event Scale. That's, in case you were wondering, out of seven—the only other nuclear crisis to reach the same level is Chernobyl.


Authorities still believe "the cumulative amount [of radiation] from the Fukushima plant is less than that from Chernobyl," but another aftershock—6.6 magnitude—forced workers to evacuate on Monday, and Reactor No. 4 is apparently on fire.

Update: More information about the upgrade: The Wall Street Journal writes that the decision to upgrade the Fukushima plant's rating is a "grim admission" that we're talking about serious, long-term damage to the surrounding area, and an acknowledgment that the plant suffered from a "major release" of radioactive material. The Japanese government is evacuating towns as far as 19 miles away, depending on radiation levels, though the danger isn't immediate and residents have a month to move.


[NHK, WSJ; image of police clearing bodies in the evacuation zone via AP]

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Kind of ironic that early on, people were too content on jumping at the media for 'fear mongering', but apparently that level of fear was more than justified. And now it seems erring on caution was the more correct way to handle it, especially if the electric company knew jack squat about nuclear disasters. At least the everyday Japanese now fully know Tokyo Electric is at fault for mishandling it. Not sure how this will change the corporate gamesmanship that happens in Japan almost on a constant basis. The way they think bowing heads and apologizing is going to solve anything is just insulting.