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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DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

without free and fair elections, a vigorous free press, and engaged citizens to reclaim power from those who abuse it.

In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily bluster—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

If you're able to, please join us in this mission with a donation today. Our reporting right now is focused on voting rights and election security, corruption, disinformation, racial and gender equity, and the climate crisis. We can’t do it without the support of readers like you, and we need to give it everything we've got between now and November. Thank you.

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