Japan’s Nuclear Crisis Reaches Chernobyl Threat Level

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The situation at Japan’s ailing Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant continues to be bleak, as officials on Tuesday raised the threat level from 5 to 7—the highest on the international scale and equal to the 1986 disaster at Chernobyl.

While officials said they believe that the levels of radiation released so far are only 10 percent of the Chernobyl release, the projections for the long term are grim. “The radiation leak has not stopped completely and our concern is that it could eventually exceed Chernobyl,” Junichi Matsumoto, an executive of the plant’s operator, Tokyo Electric Power Co., told the New York Times.

From Japan’s Kyodo News:

A considerable amount of radioactive materials emitted is believed to originate from the plant’s No. 2 reactor, whose containment vessel’s pressure suppression chamber was damaged by an explosion on March 15, said Kenkichi Hirose, a Cabinet Office adviser serving for the safety commission, at a news conference.

“Our estimates suggest the amount of radioactive materials released into the air sharply rose on March 15 and 16 after abnormalities were detected at the No. 2 reactor,” Hirose said. ”The cumulative amount of leaked radiation has been gradually on the rise, but we believe the current emission level is significantly low.”

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You expect the big picture, and it's our job at Mother Jones to give it to you. And right now, so many of the troubles we face are the making not of a virus, but of the quest for profit, political or economic (and not just from the man in the White House who could have offered leadership and comfort but instead gave us bleach).

In "News Is Just Like Waste Management," we unpack what the coronavirus crisis has meant for journalism, including Mother Jones’, and how we can rise to the challenge. If you're able to, this is a critical moment to support our nonprofit journalism with a donation: We've scoured our budget and made the cuts we can without impairing our mission, and we hope to raise $400,000 from our community of online readers to help keep our big reporting projects going because this extraordinary pandemic-plus-election year is no time to pull back.

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