By Ria Novosti
The consequences of the accident at the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant may ultimately exceed the level of Chernobyl, a spokesman for Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO), the Fukushima Daiichi operator, said on Tuesday.
Officials from the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency (NISA) announced that the crisis level had been raised on the international nuclear and radiological event (INES) scale, putting the emergency on a par with Chernobyl.
“The radiation leak has not stopped completely and our concern is that the amount of leakage [of radiation] could eventually reach that of Chernobyl or exceed it,” Kyodo news agency quoted the official from TEPCO as saying.
NISA said that Japan on Tuesday raised the severity level of the accident from the current 5 at the plant to the maximum 7 on an international scale, which the Chernobyl disaster was given in the former Soviet republic of Ukraine in 1986. The Chernobyl plant is the only nuclear disaster that has ever been rated on a level of 7.
A powerful quake and tsunami hit northeastern Japan on March 11 leaving more than 27,000 people dead or missing and disabling the cooling systems at Fukushima reactors. Radioactive elements were later found in the water, air and food products in some parts of Japan.