Japan nuke agency maintains accident rating

15th March 2011, Comments 0 comments

Japan's nuclear safety agency on Tuesday maintained its rating of the accident at a quake-hit atomic power plant at four on a seven-point global scale after a French watchdog upgraded it to six.

"There is no discussion here about upgrading the international nuclear accident rating for the Fukushima plant," an official at the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency told AFP.

The 1979 accident at Three Mile Island in Pennsylvania rates five on the international scale of gravity for nuclear accidents, while the 1986 Chernobyl disaster is put at seven.

The Fukushima No. 1 plant, 250 kilometres (155 miles) northeast of Tokyo, has seen a series of explosions and a fire at four of its reactors since Friday's devastating earthquake and tsunami.

The government reported apparent damage to part of the container shielding reactor number two at the plant, although it was unclear whether this resulted from the blast. The extent of that damage was not immediately clear.

Andre-Claude Lacoste, head of France's Nuclear Safety Authority (ASN), said on Tuesday: "The incident has taken on a completely different dimension compared to yesterday. It is clear that we are at level six."

"The order of gravity has changed," Lacoste told a press conference.

© 2011 AFP

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