Japan admits delaying upgrading of nuclear crisis
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Japanese regulators only yesterday said that the radiation leak from the plant, crippled by last month’s tsunami, ranked as a seven – the highest grade – on the International Atomic Energy Agency’s accident scale.
The new rating, which officials said came after a new assessment of radiation at the crippled plant, placed the crisis on a par with the 1986 Chernobyl disaster, frequently cited as the worst ever.
They said the change was made after high total levels of contamination had been found in air, tap water, vegetables and seawater in the surrounding area.
The IAEA states that the radiation released in such a “major accident” will cause a variety of short- and long-term health problems and lasting environmental dangers.
One official from the plant operator, Tepco, admitted: “Our concern is that it could eventually exceed Chernobyl.”