Japan Disaster not Yet Another Chernobyl
Japanese authorities rated the core damage at the Fukushima Daiichi at Level 5 on the International Nuclear Events Scale (INES) scale on the 18 March 2011. INES is used to communicate to the public the safety significance of events associated with sources of radiation. The scale runs from 0 (deviation) to 7 (major accident).
The nuclear accident at Fukushima was raised yesterday to level 7 which implies that there has been a major release of radioactive material into the atmosphere, with widespread health and environmental effects requiring implementation of planned and extended countermeasures. The Chernobyl disaster is the only other nuclear accident to have been rated a Level 7 event.
Chernobyl was a case of an active nuclear reactor exploding on the 26 April 1986 which resulted in radioactive material being released into the atmosphere for 10 days. A 18.5 mile exclusion zone around the plant was declared to keep people safe. Thirty one men died trying to contain the disaster, and the total number of cancers induced by the catastrophe is still unknown. So is the Fukushima disaster on par with Chernobyl? Experts are adamant that we should not consider the two events to be the same. Here's why:
To date there have been no fatalities reported as a result of the radiation leak at Fukushima, and only 21 plant workers have been affected by minor radiation sickness, according to Japanese officials. About 70,000 people living within a 12-mile radius of the plant have been evacuated, while 130,000 living between 12 and 20 miles from the plant have been told to leave voluntarily or stay indoors. It is also worth mentioning that Chernobyl had no containment building, thus allowing radioactivity to spread as far as 500 kilometres away. And while radiation has escaped the containment facilities at Fukushima, steel-and-concrete structures have remained largely intact, minimising the impact beyond the immediate exclusion zone.Continued on the next page