Japan has declared a nuclear power emergency after the cooling system failed at a nuclear power plant at Fukushima following the earthquake in the northeast. The area around the plant has been evacuated.
There have been recent reports of a possible radiation leak at the power plant.
Radiation levels are rising at the Fukushima nuclear plant after a cooling system failed following the earthquake.
As of now, authorities say the reactor is not leaking radiation and there is no immediate danger to the public.
However, experts say there is a risk of a leak if the situation is not resolved in the next few hours.
Alarmingly, the situation bears striking similarities to the build up ahead of the worst nuclear disaster in history – at Chernobyl.
However, although these two situations may seem similar, RT’s correspondent and expert on the Chernobyl disaster, Aleksey Yaroshevsky, believes that, in reality, they are quite different.
First of all, what is happening in Japan is an aftermath of a natural disaster, and not a man-made one, like Chernobyl.
Besides, the Japanese reactor is one hundred times more powerful than the one in the fourth block of the Chernobyl power plant, which exploded in 1986. In fact, the two stations in the Fukushima region produce the world’s largest joint amount of energy.
The security systems at Japanese nuclear power plants have been designed in a way that should an incident occur, a certain dome will cover the station, preventing any leaks in the atmosphere.
Obviously, such system could not exist in the Soviet times, that’s why the whole European continent suffered from the Chernobyl disaster.
However, what happened on Friday in Japan is that the automated security systems went on after the earthquake at most of the nuclear stations except for Fukushima. At the moment it remains unknown whether the security system will work there in case of any leak.
Experts say that should any explosion or leak at the Fukushima nuclear plant occur, this may lead to a much worse contamination of the atmosphere than the one that was caused by the Chernobyl disaster.
The possibility of radiation emission in Fukushima puts in danger not only Japan, but the whole Russian Far East, large areas of China and the Korean peninsula.
However, American scientists report that, at the moment, the wind is blowing eastward from Japan, so if any accident happens in Fukushima, all of the radioactive material will be taken to the middle of the Pacific, far away from the populated areas.
Obviously, though, the wind may change any moment, and if anything happens at the station, the consequences may be much more serious than those of the Chernobyl disaster.
Kate Hudson, head of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament in London, says building nuclear plants on the shore line, like Japan or Britain do, because of the need for water passing through the station for cooling purposes, may lead to a very dangerous situation in case of a natural disaster like tsunami or a rising water level.
“That situation in Japan, as I understand from nuclear activists there, is actually extremely dangerous. If they cannot cool the radioactive core of that reactor, then you run the risk of a meltdown, and then you run the risk of fire, massive radioactive release and a situation like Chernobyl or worse,” says Hudson.
However, Dr Richard Philips from the School of Earth and Environment at Britain’s University of Leeds, says Japanese nuclear facilities are very well prepared for any natural disasters and the catastrophe is unlikely to happen.
“They are very well prepared for earthquakes in terms of their nuclear facilities, and this is one of their core energy supplies.Their buildings are incredibly robust, they have done many tests, gone through lots of scenarios similar to what they are experiencing now. I‘ll be surprised if we do see any serious leakage from the Fukushima plant,” said Philips.