“The Japanese Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency (NISA) today issued a new provisional rating for the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant on the IAEA International Nuclear and Radiological Event Scale (INES). The nuclear accident at Fukushima Daiichi is now rated as a level 7 “Major Accident” on INES. Level 7 is the most serious level on INES and is used to describe an event comprised of “A major release of radioactive material with widespread health and environmental effects requiring implementation of planned and extended countermeasures”. Japanese authorities notified the IAEA in advance of the public announcement and the formal submission of the new provisional rating. The new provisional rating considers the accidents that occurred at Units 1, 2 and 3 as a single event on INES. Previously, separate INES Level 5 ratings had been applied for Units 1, 2 and 3. The provisional INES Level 3 rating assigned for Unit 4 still applies. The re-evaluation of the Fukushima Daiichi provisional INES rating resulted from an estimate of the total amount of radioactivity released to the environment from the nuclear plant. NISA estimates that the amount of radioactive material released to the atmosphere is approximately 10% of the 1986 Chernobyl accident, which is the only other nuclear accident to have been rated a Level 7 event.”
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