The government in Japan has finally re-designated the disaster at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant as a Level 7 event, putting it on par with Chernobyl. They now share the top of the international nuclear event scale. Something I’ve been saying for over 3 weeks now! The government and Tokyo Electric Power Company, TEPCO, has been trying to pass off Fukushima as a Level 5 event, equal to that of Three Mile Island. Damaged during the March 11 earthquake and tsunami, the Fukushima power plant has three reactors that have experienced core meltdowns, as well as spent fuel rods being exposed at a fourth building′s storage pool. A great deal of radiation has been released, both in the atmosphere by smoke and debris from three explosions as well as over 11,000 tons of highly radioactive water dumped into the Pacific Ocean.

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Efforts to contain the radiation and cool the damaged reactor cores have sadly resembled a Max Sennett Keystone Cops movie from the silent movie era. TEPCO officials have been less than forthright in the information they have been telling the public, as well as the Japanese government. One such incident involved a report that radiation detectors registered an alarm of levels 1 Million times higher than normal background radiation. TEPCO then announced that the readings were wrong, the radiation was ONLY 100,000 times higher! That sure was reassuring!

To be considered a Level 7 on the International Nuclear Event Scale, the event must be considered a major disaster that has impacted both people and environment around the reactor. While nobody has died as of yet directly due to radiation as in the case of Chernobyl, dozens of workers at the plant have undoubtedly received lethal doses. Japan’s government has extended the evacuation zone this week from 12 miles to 18 miles from the power plant at Fukushima. Five other specific areas further away are also being evacuated. Soil and water contamination across much of Japan is now being closely monitored, even in Tokyo.

At Chernobyl, a ‘Zone of Alienation’ was established, extending out some 18 miles from the plant, covering nearly 500 square miles now considered to dangerous for human habitation. While the same, immediate area about the Fukushima plant has a similar population density, about 400 people per square mile, other areas nearby in Japan are at serious risk. The U.S. government has ordered its personnel to be no closer than 50 miles of Fukushima.

The disaster ar the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant was upgraded today by Japan’s government to a Level 7 on the International Nuclear Event Scale. This now makes Fukushima as bad as Chernobyl. The plant has been spewing radioactive material and contaminated water since damaged during the March 11 earthquake and tsunami. Previously, the Tokyo Electric Power Company, TEPCO, has tried to downplay the disaster to only being a Level 5 event like Three Mile Island. Today’s decision by the Japanese government shows that they have beginning to realize just how serious the Fukushima disaster truly is. TEPCO claims that the radiation release is still only one-tenth that of Chernobyl. But being one-tenth of too-much is not very reassuring.

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