IAEA: Fukushima less severe than Chernobyl

IAEA: Fukushima less severe than Chernobyl
# 12 April 2011 21:04 (UTC +04:00)
Baku-APA. The UN nuclear agency said Tuesday the Japanese nuclear accident is far less severe than the Chernobyl disaster, even though both are now rated on the same highest level on the 7-step INES scale, APA reports quoting Earth Times.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) reacted to the decision by Japanese authorities to raise the Fukushima accident from level 5 to level 7 on the international nuclear accident scale.

Senior IAEA official Denis Flory indicated that IAEA member states were confused about the INES scale’s purpose, given the top rating that came late after the accident and that is seemingly not in line with the IAEA’s overall assessment.

The agency’s chief nuclear safety officer stressed that INES was not meant to indicate concrete threat levels, but to give a broad assessment to the public.

The official did not rule out that the way the scale is used would be adjusted, following Fukushima. "There is the possibility of better communication," he said.

Flory said the explosion and subsequent fire at the Ukrainian Chernobyl reactor in 1986 involved much more energy than in Fukushima, leading to a bigger and wider-ranging spread of radioactivity.

"The Fukushima accident and Chernobyl are very different," the told reporters.

Although Japan rated its accident at 7 because the estimated release of radioactivity was above a certain threshold, the national nuclear safety agency said the amount was only 10 per cent of the amount emitted from Chernobyl.

Flory said the previous designation of level 5 was provisional and was chosen because there was no data on radioactive releases yet.

"And depending on the size of the release, they knew they would have eventually to upgrade the INES level," he added.
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