Fukushima Daiichi Put on Par with Chernobyl: NISA Level 7
Fukushima Daiichi Crisis Raised to Level 7
The crisis at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant has been raised to level 7, putting it on par with the meltdown at Chernobyl. Level 7 is the NISA's highest rating: meaning a leak of a large amount of radiation into the atmosphere and wider environment.
- The elevation of the crisis level at Fukushima Daiichi from 5 to 7 is not based on a new explosion or leak, but on analysis of the radioactive material already leaked. Chernobyl was a case of an active nuclear reactor melting down and spewing radioactive material into the atmosphere for ten days.
Fukushima Daiichi was inactive when it began to leak, and Japan is facing a slower discharge of radioactive material over a longer period of time. However, a Tepco spokesman conceded that Fukushima Daiichi could end up being worse than Chernobyl, but that is a minority opinion.
Though both Fukushima Daiichi and Chernobyl met the criteria for Level 7, their effects on their respective environments are nowhere near comparable yet.
Radiation from iodine-131 has a half-life of eight days, nearly disappearing after 80 days. Cesium-137 has a half-life of 30 years, disappearing in 300 years. This is why the Fukushima Daiichi leak is so troubling. Iodine and cesium can build up in the human body, and both are linked to cancers, though studies after Chernobyl did not find an increase in cancers linked to cesium.
Cesium is used in some cancer treatments, but not in uncontrolled doses, and not for prolong periods of time.