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Fukushima leak classified as 'serious radiation incident'

Published time: August 28, 2013 12:38
Japan's Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Toshimitsu Motegi (C), wearing a protective suit and a mask, inspects at the tsunami-crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Fukushima prefecture August 26, 2013, in this photo released by Kyodo. (Reuters/Kyodo)

Japan's Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Toshimitsu Motegi (C), wearing a protective suit and a mask, inspects at the tsunami-crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Fukushima prefecture August 26, 2013, in this photo released by Kyodo. (Reuters/Kyodo)

Japan’s Nuclear Regulation Authority has raised the rating of the radioactive water leak at the tsunami-hit Fukushima nuclear power plant to Level 3 – a "serious incident" on an international scale of radioactivity.

The upgrade is from Level 1, an “anomaly,” which was initially assigned to the leak of 300 tons of radiation-contaminated water from a tank at the Fukushima plant, when it was first acknowledged by Tokyo Electric Power Co, or TEPCO, the company running the plant, on August 20.

Level 3 indicates a serious threat on the International Nuclear and Radiological Event Scale (INES), which goes from Level 0 (no threat) – to the highest level, 7, which was assigned to the Fukushima nuclear plant meltdowns following the March 2011 tsunami, and also to the Chernobyl catastrophe, which happened 25 years before the Japan disaster.

The Nuclear Regulation Authority criticized TEPCO for failing to discover the source of the leak earlier. The company running the plant acknowledged Tuesday that radioactivity near the leak and exposure levels among patrolling staff started to increase in early July.

On Monday, during a visit to Fukushima, Japanese Industry Minister Toshimitsu Motegi promised the government would supervise the clean-up at the plant. 

Nuclear regulators lashed out at TEPCO on Wednesday for ignoring their calls for stepping up patrolling efforts at the plant, which they believe has led to the leak being overlooked.

But the chairman of Japan’s Nuclear Regulation Authority, Shunichi Tanaka, said that describing the situation at the plant as “dire” was wrong.

"What's important is not the number itself but to give a basic idea about the extent of the problem," AP reported Tanaka as saying.

Tanaka said a much bigger problem at the plant was contaminated ground water, which might be reaching the sea. It’s unclear how much water is escaping, the level of its contamination and the damage being done to marine life forms, the regulator said.

Comments (14)

 

Peter Craig 31.08.2013 21:22

After the meltdowns, the Prez rushed over to Libya to get Gaddafi, so whenever there is a nuke crisis you can bet the ranch that we are headed to the middle east to bomb someone. What a freaking joke!

 

Peter Craig 31.08.2013 13:03

Here we go again. Blackout mode now on for the approaching typhoon Kong-rey. It should bring heavy rain as it passes just north of the disaster zone. We will soon see what another 3 to 5 inches of rain will do. The book of Revelation doesnt seem so far fetched anymore!!! Land of the rising sun takes on a whole new meaning as the Japanese govt sits on their asses for yet another day.

 

Mark Toth 30.08.2013 10:21

I fell that Japan could have done more eariler on to prevent this tragedy if they had applied a real fix,instead of a half-assed fix,now this will become a global disaster............ .........Shame on you,Japan!

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