The Modern Tokyo Times

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Japan raises the ongoing nuclear crisis to 7 in Fukushima

Japan raises the ongoing nuclear crisis to 7 in Fukushima

Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times 

TEPCO and the nuclear crisis in Fukushima
TEPCO and the nuclear crisis in Fukushima

The government of Japan clarified that the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant crisis is now rated 7 and this puts it on par with Chernobyl which had the same rating.  However, the government stressed through several agencies that radiation discharge and other important factors were 10% of what Chernobyl was. 

Despite this, it is clear that the government is worried about ongoing events and while the health effects are still being played down it is obvious that the amounts of radiation being released is accumulating.   Therefore, it is further evidence that containment policies by Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) and the government have partly failed.

I stress partly, because at one point it was touch and go to whether certain reactors would blow up or if the entire Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant would go into complete meltdown.

However, the radiation leakage over more than one month is adding up and this is why the government upgraded the rating to 7.  This fact also shows that the government is being transparent because the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) knows that the people of Japan demand openness even if the news is negative.

Minoru Oogoda from Japan’s Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency (NISA) stated that “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.” 

This statement is in line with what the government stated because the increase to 7 is based on the accumulative factor and this alone makes it very different from Chernobyl. 

Naoto Kan, Prime Minister of Japan, stated that “Step by step, the reactors in the Fukushima Daiichi power plant are moving toward stability.”

It is worth stressing that around 28,000 people are feared dead (many people are still missing) because of the potent tsunami which followed the 9.0-magnitude earthquake.  However, no fatalities have resulted from the nuclear crisis in Fukushima and several agencies, and the government, are claiming that the risk to health is extremely low. 

Despite this, it is worth pointing out that while the government of Japan has taken major measures in order to safeguard people who are close to the nuclear power plant.  This applies to an exclusion zone, banning certain produce from being sold on the open market, and implementing policies to prevent water usage.  The real long-term impact is still unknown and cancer clusters may emerge or may not; because opinion is still divided but other nations like the United Kingdom do share the same opinion and have supported the government of Japan to the full.

The level rating of 7 means that Fukushima joins Chernobyl which had the same rating. Kyshtyn (Russia – Soviet Union) was rated 6 and Windscale (UK) and Three Mile Island were both rated 5. 

It is worth highlighting the fact that of all the above mentioned then Japan is unique because the nuclear crisis was triggered by a 9.0-magnitude earthquake which then unleashed a brutal and destructive tsunami.  However, all the other nuclear problems which were rated so high were because of human failure and nature was not the reason.

Also, while earthquakes have killed millions of people collectively in so many nations and the same applies to a huge loss of life because of tsunamis. The same does not apply to nuclear disasters because the loss of life collectively is relatively small when we compare this with the five most destructive earthquakes or the five most potent tsunamis.

This is not downplaying radiation and the current crisis in Fukushima but it is factual and some elements in the media may be clouded by their anti-nuclear agenda. 

However, it is true that the radiation factor and earthquake/tsunami factor is very different.  They are destructive in different ways and while reconstruction can start fully in areas outside of the exclusion zone in Fukushima; the same does not apply to areas near the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.

Also, the fisheries sector is being decimated in areas close to the nuclear plant and similar problems exist to farming.  Therefore, radiation will continue to damage the local economy and more alarming, albeit without any data which can apply yet; is the future possibility of cancer clusters.

This unknown fear will hinder recovery surrounding the stricken nuclear plant and certain economic sectors will suffer greatly throughout 2011. Also, the future of the area close to the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant looks bleak and local people will continue to have a torrid time within the exclusion zone and close to the exclusion zone.

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