Japan’s Rating of Fukushima Accident as INES 7 is ``Woefully Late``: Greenpeace

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Tokyo- (PanOrient News) Greenpeace today labeled the Japanese government’s decision to rate the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident INES level 7 – the same as the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster - as woefully late, and again called on it to immediately step up protective measures for affected populations.

"The history of the nuclear industry is littered of cover-ups and underplaying of the consequences of nuclear accidents. The industry both inside and outside Japan have again been underplaying the human consequences of this terrible tragedy, and only now after a month has this disaster been accepted for what it is - the worst on its scale”, according to a statement by Thomas Breuer, Head of the Climate and Energy Unit at Greenpeace Germany. “But still, this is not the worst case scenario. As the industry still struggles to bring the stricken nuclear complex under
control, much more radiation could be released”.

“What more warning could the world need to turn away from this deadly and dangerous technology, what more spur could their be to embrace an energy revolution based upon safe and secure renewable energy sources."

“Greenpeace has been calling for a level 7 rating for three weeks, however, as we have seen with evacuation zone around the nuclear plant, the government’s response is consistently lacking”.

“The Japanese government finally acknowledged how serious the situation is. It must fast track additional measures – such as the evacuation of pregnant women and children from densely populated areas like Fukushima City and Koriyama - to protect the health and livelihoods of those affected by this disaster” concluded Breuer.

Japan's nuclear safety agency has raised the crisis level at the troubled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant to 7, from the current 5. The agency said on Tuesday that large volumes of radioactive substances that could affect human health and the environment are being released in a wide area.

Level 7 is the highest rank on an international standard and equivalent to the severity recorded after the Chernobyl disaster in 1986. But the agency said the volume of radiation from Fukushima is one-tenth that at Chernobyl.

Senior agency official Hidehiko Nishiyama said 29 people died of acute radiation exposure at Chernobyl but there are no fatal radiation casualties at Fukushima. He added that at Chernobyl the nuclear reactor itself exploded in contrast to the Fukushima plant, which was damaged by hydrogen explosions. He said the reactors themselves retain their shape. Nishiyama also said the upgrade does not affect the existing evacuation plan, which was made on the basis of the same radiation evaluation.

Photo: Greenpeace field team member carrying out radiation measurements in Fukushima.

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