UN expert: Fukushima not as bad as Chernobyl

April 7, 2011 - 0:0

VIENNA/ TOKYO (Agencies) – A senior UN radiation expert ranks the Japanese nuclear accident “in between” those that occurred at Chernobyl and Three Mile Island.

Wolfgang Weiss, chairman of the UN Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation, says it's still too early to make a full assessment since the crisis at the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant is still ongoing, AP reported.
He said Wednesday that radioactivity from the 1979 Three Mile Island incident was largely contained but traces of fallout from Fukushima detected around the world are “much, much, much lower” than traces seen at similar distances after Chernobyl in 1986.
The Fukushima plant was by hit by a tsunami triggered by a massive earthquake on March 11.
Meanwhile Japan stopped highly radioactive water leaking into the sea on Wednesday from a crippled nuclear plant and acknowledged it could have given more information to neighboring countries about contamination in the ocean, Reuters reported.
Despite the breakthrough in plugging the leak at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant, engineers need to pump 11.5 million liters (11,500 tons) of contaminated water back into the ocean because they have run out of storage space at the facility. The water was used to cool over-heated fuel rods.
Nuclear experts said the damaged reactors were far from being under control almost a month after they were hit by a massive earthquake and tsunami on March 11.
Plant operator Tokyo Electric Power (TEPCO) said it had stemmed the leak using liquid glass at one of the plants six reactors.
“The leaks were slowed yesterday after we injected a mixture of liquid glass and a hardening agent and it has now stopped,” a TEPCO spokesman told Reuters.
Engineers had been struggling to stop leaks from reactor No. 2, even using sawdust and newspapers.
Neighbors South Korea and China are getting concerned about the world's worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl in 1986, and the radioactive water being pumped into the sea, newspapers reported.
“We are instructing the trade and foreign ministries to work better together so that detailed explanations are supplied especially to neighboring countries,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano told a news conference.
Experts insisted the low-level radioactive water to be pumped into the ocean posed no health hazard to people.
Photo: Members of Japan's Self-Defense Force in protective gear at the Fukushima nuclear plant . (AP photo)