Japan raises severity of nuclear accident

Authorities upgraded the Fukushima Daiichi situation to a 5 putting it on the same level as Three Mile Island

Topics: Japan Earthquake, Japan, Nuclear Power,

Japan raises severity of nuclear accidentIn this photo taken Wednesday, March 16, 2011 and released by Tokyo Electric Power Co. via Kyodo News Friday, smoke billows from wrecked unit 3 at Japan's crippled Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant in Okumamachi, Fukushima Prefecture. Emergency crews worked to reconnect electricity to cooling systems and spray more water on overheating nuclear fuel at the tsunami-ravaged facility Friday. (AP Photo/Tokyo Electric Power Co. via Kyodo News) JAPAN OUT, MANDATORY CREDIT, NO LICENSING IN CHINA, HONG KONG, JAPAN, SOUTH KOREA AND FRANCE(Credit: AP)

Japan’s nuclear safety agency raised the severity rating of the country’s nuclear crisis Friday from Level 4 to Level 5 on a seven-level international scale, putting it on par with the Three Mile Island accident in Pennsylvania in 1979.

Ryohei Shiomi, a spokesman for the nuclear safety agency, said Friday that the agency raised the rating of the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear crisis on the International Nuclear Event Scale. The scale defines a Level 4 incident as having local consequences and a Level 5 incident as having wider consequences.

The hallmarks of a Level 5 emergency are severe damage to a reactor core, release of large quantities of radiation with a high probability of “significant” public exposure or several deaths from radiation.

A partial meltdown at Three Mile Island also was ranked a Level 5. The Chernobyl accident of 1986, which killed at least 31 people with radiation sickness, raised long-term cancer rates, and spewed radiation for hundreds of miles (kilometers), was ranked a Level 7.

France’s Nuclear Safety Authority has been saying since Tuesday that the crisis in northeastern Japan should be ranked Level 6 on the scale.

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