Russia doubts Japan’s sincerity with raising nuclear level to 7
Lee Jay Walker
Modern Tokyo Times
Russia’s nuclear chief appears to be throwing cold water on Japan’s announcement that the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear crisis is level 7. Sergei Kiriyenko, Russia’s nuclear chief, stated frankly that he is flabbergasted by the announcement by Japanese authorities. He is adamant that the crisis at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant can’t be labeled on par with Chernobyl.
Sergei Kiriyenko appears to be pointing at economic motives and a lack of sincerity on behalf of the Japanese authorities. Therefore, he is hinting that it is about reducing insurance costs and this applies to liabilities.
Sergei Kiriyenko stated that “It is hard for me to assess why the Japanese colleagues have taken this decision. I suspect this is more of a financial issue, than a reactor one.”
He further added that “I guess that maybe it could be linked to the definition of force majeure with regard to insurance. I would pay attention to that. It is a bit strange.”
The International Atomic Energy Agency applies level 7 to various factors and the reality of Chernobyl weighs heavily on the nuclear sector. Yet one criteria, not the sole criteria, but an important aspect of level 7; is that the release of radiation is a serious threat to health and this implies major health and environmental damage.
However, while it is factual that radiation levels have endangered the food chain and water, and other areas; it is also true that no deaths have occurred because of radiation,
Nuclear scientists in France also appear to be skeptical about level 7 applying to the stricken nuclear plant in Fukushima. Also, if the new radiation level is 7 then it appears strange that the exclusion zone is not expanded further and quickly.
Like all major incidents you will have various different opinions but in the imagination of most people is Chernobyl and once the Fukushima Daiichi crisis is rated on par; then hard facts are needed but the government of Japan merely pointed at the accumulative effect of radiation.
Sergei Kiriyenko states that “Our estimates showed that the level was between 5 and 6. Today it doesn’t reach the 6th level.”
It must be added that Russia is building several nuclear reactors in India because India is energy hungry and the huge population of India continues to grow. At the same time industrialization and modernization means that greater demands for energy is needed and the nuclear sector is seen to be able to resolve this issue or to alleviate the situation in India.
Sergei Kiriyenko commented about the Kudankulam nuclear power project and gave major reassurances. He stated that “If you think of a station that would resist all possible tsunamis, earthquakes, power supply outages, you will get Kudankulam in the end.”
It is abundantly clear that the image of the nuclear sector is currently one of negativity and this is based on part reality, and part myths; therefore, “the fog” of the real threat from radiation is often blown up by the anti-nuclear lobby but at the same time it is downplayed by others who believe that the nuclear sector is valid and much needed.
Comments by senior nuclear officials from Japan and Russia, and other nations, appear to be contradicting each other. The differences are not minor therefore is the current crisis level 7 or much lower?
According to authorities in Japan the level 7 figure was given because of the accumulative nature of the radiation build up. However, government agencies did point out that total discharge from radiation was 10% of what Chernobyl was.
Minoru Oogoda from Japan’s Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency (NISA) stated that “We have upgraded the severity level to seven as the impact of radiation leaks has been widespread from the air, vegetables, tap water and the ocean.”
The Prime Minister of Japan, Naoto Kan, commented that “Step by step, the reactors in the Fukushima Daiichi power plant are moving toward stability.” Therefore, if the Daiichi plant is moving towards stability and inroads have happened; then why now state that the crisis is level 7?
It could be that the level 7 only applies to the accumulation of radiation which is being built up. After all, the government of Japan is at pains to point out that the threat to life is remote.
At the moment, the full extent of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant remains shrouded in mystery because comments which have been made appear to be vague.
The level 7 rating does appear to be at odds with what the government of Japan has announced in the past. It would appear that something dramatic must have happened to change the level from 5 to 7; however, it appears that the threat to life is still remote and the nuclear power plant is much more stable than it was two weeks ago.
If the level 7 rating only applies to the accumulation of radiation; then is level 7 warranted when an exclusion zone is already in place?
It is clear that this issue will remain open to debate but the significance of level 7 must not be overplayed or downplayed. However, at the moment it is hard to believe that the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear crisis is on par with Chernobyl and the rating level remains open to debate.
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