It has been difficult to find well-reasoned news articles about the aftermath of the earthquake and the situation in Fukushima. Here is one article that we think is worth reading. The article talks about how the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency of Japan has given the accident at the Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power Plant a rating of 7 on the International Nuclear and Radiological Event Scale (INES).
“The classification of seven means there’s a leak of radiation into the wider environment; and although it’ll be interpreted as being ‘the same as Chernobyl’, it’s not the same,” said Paddy Regan, professor of physics at the UK’s University of Surrey.
“The amount of radiation release is a lot less, and the way it’s released is very different.
“The Chernobyl fire was putting lots of radioactive material into the atmosphere and taking it over large distances; here, there have been a couple of releases where they’ve vented [gas from] the reactor, and then released some cooling water.”
Don Higson, a retired Australian nuclear safety specialist, was more pithy.
“To my mind, [rating Fukushima equivalent to Chernobyl] would be nonsense,” he said.
Read the article: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-13048916