Tahi (16th April 2011)
11 April 2011 Last updated at 23:46 ET
Japan: Nuclear crisis level raised to highest level
Japanese authorities have raised the measure of severity of their nuclear crisis to the highest level, officials say.
The decision was taken due to radiation measured at the damaged Fukushima Daiichi power plant, NHK reported.
The highest level for nuclear accidents (seven) had previously only applied to the Chernobyl disaster in 1986.
Meanwhile a 6.3-magnitude earthquake was reported off eastern Japan, the second tremor in as many days.
The aftershocks come a month after a huge quake and tsunami hit Japan, leaving nearly 28,000 dead or missing.
Impact of leaks
An official from the Nuclear Safety Commission of Japan announced that the crisis level at the Fukushima Daiichi plant was being raised in a televised statement, adding that it was a preliminary assessment that was subject to confirmation by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
The level seven signifies a "major accident" with "wider consequences" than the previous level, officials say.
"We have upgraded the severity level to seven as the impact of radiation leaks has been widespread from the air, vegetables, tap water and the ocean," said Minoru Oogoda of Japan's Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency (Nisa), the government's nuclear watchdog.
One official from the Tokyo Electric Power Co (Tepco), which operates the nuclear plant, said that radiation leaks had not stopped completely and could eventually exceed those at Chernobyl, Reuters news agency reported.
However, a nuclear safety agency spokesman told reporters the leaks were still small compared to those at the plant in Ukraine, then part of the Soviet Union.
"In terms of volume of radioactive materials released, our estimate shows it is about 10% of what was released by Chernobyl," he said.
The decision to raise the threat level was made after radiation of 10,000 terabequerels per hour had been estimated at the stricken plant for several hours.
That would classify the crisis at level seven on the International Nuclear and Radiological Event Scale (Ines).
It was not clear when that level had been reached. The level has subsequently dropped to less than one terabequerel an hour, reports said.
The severity level of Japan's nuclear crisis has so far been set at five, the same as that of the accident at Three Mile Island in the US in 1979.
Japan has also said it is extending the evacuation zone around the crippled nuclear plant because of radiation concerns.
The zone will be widened to encompass five communities beyond the existing 20-km (12-mile) radius, following new data about accumulated radiation levels, officials said.
Japan's nuclear commission said that according to preliminary results, the cumulative level of external radiation exceeded the yearly limit of 1 millisieverts in areas extending more than 60 kms (36 miles) to the north-west of the plant and about 40 km to the south-southwest.
On Monday, a 7.1-magnitude quake hit north-east Japan, leaving three people dead. It also triggered a brief tsunami warning, and forced workers to evacuate the Fukushima Daiichi plant.
Tuesday's quake rocked buildings in the capital, Tokyo.
There were no immediate reports of fresh damage, though Japan's Narita international airport temporarily closed its runways, and metro and train services were interrupted.
The cooling systems at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant were damaged in last month's disaster and workers have been struggling to prevent several reactors from overheating.
Officials have warned it will be several months before the situation at the nuclear facility is brought fully under control.
Tepco said on Tuesday that a fire had broken out briefly at Reactor 4, before being extinguished.
The official death toll from the disaster is 13,130, while 13,718 remain unaccounted for. More than 150,000 people have been made homeless.
Last edited by giovonni; 12th April 2011 at 05:56.
Futaba village is located near Fukushima Daiichi Plant and People evacuated after the nuclear accident on March 11th 2011. The radiation level in Futaba-cho is about 30 micro Sievert per hour, which is 30 - 40 times higher that the normal natural background level. You don't risk your live by just staying there for several hours. but it's impossible to live for the time being.
The most contamination are considered Iodine 131 (half-life 8.1 days) and Cesium 134 (half-life 2.06 years ), which radioactivity will disappear in 10 years. But if the area is much contaminated with Cesium 137, it's more serious as the half-life of Cesium 137 is 30 years and it will take 150 years until the radiation level drops to normal.
Lord Sidious (12th April 2011)
Shock Doctrine: The Rise Of Disaster Capitalism
~ If nothing changes then nothing changes ~
giovonni (13th April 2011)
Currently -Japan is the worlds third largest economy; the entire world is going to feel the effects of this environmental catastrophe...
Japan's government downgrades its outlook for growth
The earthquake and tsunami caused widespread damage to Japan's north-east coast
The Japanese government has downgraded its assessment of the economy in the wake of the devastation caused by last month's earthquake and tsunami.
It said key areas of the economy, including industrial production and exports, would suffer.
It marks the first time in six months that the government has downgraded its assessment.
On Monday, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) cut its forecast for Japanese growth.
"The economy is showing weakness recently due to the influence of the Great East Japan earthquake," the Japanese government said in its monthly economic report.
The damage caused to the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant has seen a shortfall of power supplies in Japan.
That has resulted in rolling blackouts, affecting production at some of the country's biggest companies.
The government has warned of the negative impact of the power shortage.
It has cut its assessment of the country's exports, saying shipments may decline as manufacturers battle to get their production lines back to full capacity.
The Japanese economy had already been struggling to come out of the global financial crisis before the earthquake and tsunami hit its north-east coast.
Analysts say the twin natural disasters have set back that recovery process even further.
"The condition of the economy is no longer flat or at a standstill, but rather the direction is downward," said Shigeru Sugihara, director of macroeconomic analysts at the cabinet office.
A month after the quake, engineers are still trying to stop Fukushima's reactors from overheating
Japan's problems have been made worse by the uncertainty surrounding the developments at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.
On Tuesday, Japan's Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency raised the severity of the crisis at the plant to level 7.
This level was previously applied to the 1986 Chernobyl disaster in Ukraine.
The move prompted fears that the situation at the Japanese plant may be worsening.
However, Japan's prime minister Naoto Kan has allayed those fears.
"Step by step, the reactors in the Fukushima Daiichi power plant are moving toward stability." Mr Kan said.
"People should not fall into an extreme self-restraint mood. They should live life as normal," he added.
Last edited by giovonni; 13th April 2011 at 08:08.