Japan’s developing disaster ‘as bad as Chernobyl’

The Japanese have raised the severity level of the Fukushima nuclear disaster from five to seven. This is the highest possible level and puts Fukushima on a par with Chernobyl, where the final death toll was huge (the actual number of dead is still under debate). This comparison has caused widespread panic on both a national and international scale. However, the two disasters are markedly different and will have completely different outcomes. As one BBC reporter put it: two days after the Chernobyl explosion there were children playing in the streets of the nearest town, whereas the authorities in Japan evacuated the area as soon as possible. And the increased rating does not represent a violent deterioration, but accounts for a gradual build up of radiation. At Chernobyl the radiation was released by a massive explosion, at Fukushima engineers have simply vented steam to prevent a build up. As always with headlines, one must take a large pinch of salt.

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