Japanese govt. raises Fukushima accident level to worst

Japan has assigned the maximum severity level to the nuclear accident at the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, the Kyodo news agency and the NHK channel said on Tuesday citing government sources.

A spokesman for Japan’s Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency (NISA) did not comment on the reports.

The maximum, seventh level on the International Nuclear and Radiological Event Scale (INES) is described as a “major event” and leads to “a major release of radioactive material with widespread health and environmental effects.”

So far, the seventh level has been assigned only to the 1986 Chernobyl disaster.

The disaster was earlier classed as a category five event, or an “accident with wider consequences,” which leads to a “limited release of radioactive material.”

Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant was seriously damaged by a powerful earthquake and tsunami that hit Japan on March 11. Fukushima’s operator has since been struggling to stop radioactive leaks from the plant’s crippled reactors.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano said on Monday residents in areas between 20 and 30 kilometers around Fukushima would be advised to evacuate due to accumulated radiation exposure levels.

Despite growing concern of radioactive fallout on the Russian territory, the Russian emergencies ministry said that radiation levels in Russia’s Far East remained within the norm and ranged from 11 to 16 micro roentgen per hour on Tuesday.

MOSCOW, April 12 (RIA Novosti)

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