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Japan Nuclear Plant Crisis: Is Fukushima an INES Level 7 Nuclear Event

Updated on March 18, 2011

“The discovery of nuclear reactions need not bring about the destruction of mankind any more than the discovery of matches” -Einstein

As an American, watching the media coverage of the aftermath of natural disaster in Japan, I was filled with empathy. Now,as a global citizen watching a nuclear meltdown I am filled with uncertainty of the long range potential results. The media seems to be avoiding fearmongering, but is this perhaps at the expense of a real accounting of how far reaching and long lasting the effects could really be?

Satellite Image of Fukushima Nuclear Plant

A markerFukushima Nuclear Plant -
Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant
get directions

Can Japanese and Industry Information Sources be Trusted?

"Let's not beat about the bush. They have visibly lost the essential of control (of the situation). That is our analysis, in any case, it's not what they are saying" - Besson, French Minister of Industry

A very plausible fear any thinking world citizen may have right now is, "Are they telling the truth?"

Japanese officials have the very real concern that hysteria leading from the nuclear emergency and possible radiation levels could halt international aid in areas already effected by the quakes and tsunamis. Nuclear Energy and Industry officials have vested interest in keeping the adage alive that Nuclear Energy is safe.

"After Chernobyl, all the force of the nuclear industry was directed to hide this event, for not creating damage to their reputation. The Chernobyl experience was not studied properly because who has money for studying? Only industry. But industry doesn't like it," Andreev told Reuters news agency" - Louli Andreev

I would prefer to never be the one wearing a tin foil hat. But there is absolutely no chance that either the Japanese or American Governments are telling us anything near the whole truth. What purpose would it serve to admit the actual scope of this threat. Nothing could be done, you cant run and hide from radiation so its best to keep the cattle calm and tell use everything is under control.

One telling point that the intrepid could research further has been the claims that testing is being done or that information will have to wait until testing can be performed. This is nonsense, the US Military has real time and constant radiation detection program across the globe.

The Constant Phoenix Program was created in 1947 and continues to this day. With the mandate of confirming that Nuclear Arms are not being tested. The AF has specially fitted Boeing WC-135 airplanes to perform this air sampling. Are we really supposed to believe or even accept that the US waited until the 17th to deploy this option?

Read More about: Constant Phoenix

What does make me feel a little bit better about US response

"The advice the Japanese government is giving, based on information it has, is different from the advice that we would be giving if this incident were happening in the United States of America," Carney said. "It is not about the quality of information. It is about the standards set by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission here in the United States and the kind of advice it would be giving should this incident happen in the United States." White House- Jim Carney

I read "advice" and think of Federal response to Katrina, but at least they admit that Japans reaction in the media is below our own standards.

But, to be sure, "radiophobia," can have long term damage too. People from effected communities could be ostracized, food industries in possible effected areas as far away from Japan as Southern California could take hits with far reaching consequences. A tight and balanced accounting of risk is necessary when reporting on this issue.

People of Fukushima
People of Fukushima

Where is Fukushima?

Significant Risk to people and Environment - 

About Fukushima?

With all these satellite photos and charts and graphs of radiation fallout and reactor core temperatures, i have seen very little about the people of Fukushima. I wanted to get a feel for the impacted community, what type of region is potentially poisoned for the rest of our lifetimes?

Quick Glance at The People and Environment of Fukushima:

I looked through Flickr for the better part of an hour looking at images of the Fukushima Prefecture, the area is outstandingly beautiful and is filled with many national parks, If you have a moment you should look through the photos posted that show a snapshot of the daily lives and environment of Fukushima.

See More of Fukushima at Flickr

Will the US Food Supply be endangered by Radiation from Japan Imports?

When news coverage said , it seems as if the winds will be forcing any possible radioactive gas into the Pacific, I instantly worried about the effect on fisheries and well, the entire global ecosystem! It seems that was not a completely paranoid thought as fishing and tourism are the main draws of the region outside of Nuclear Energy, of course,

The FDA has released a Q&A to directly address these concerns about Japanese Imports:

  • Less than 4% of all imported foods stem from Japan, although seafood makes up the greatest portion of that 4%
  • Currently, production and importation is basically stopped by the crises
  • In the long run, the great amount of water in the Pacific should dilute any radioactivity to far below any amounts that should concern us.

Read the full FDA response: Current Hazards posed by Japan Crisis
The last bullet seems like a harder one to swallow, concentrations tend to increase up the food chain over time but at least it seems its not an issue to worry about this week.

The Beauty of Fukushima
The Beauty of Fukushima
Fukushima City
Fukushima City
Tokyo Denryoku Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station
Tokyo Denryoku Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station | Source

What is the International Nuclear and Radiological Event Scale

Will the Fukushima crisis reach Level 7?

A level 6 event means that consequences are broader and countermeasures are needed to deal with the radioactive contamination. A level 7 event would constitute a larger release of radioactive material, and would require further extended countermeasures. The international community should increase assistance to Japan to both contain the emergency at the reactors and to address the wider contamination. We need to find a solution together.

Institute for Science and International Security Statement 3-16

For the past couple days headlines and experts keep referring to INES ratings and comparisons between 3 Mile Island and Chernobyl. Which disaster will Fukushima be more similar to, they speculate.... As the meltdown has increased in intensity, experts are starting to embrace the possibility of a a Chernobyl level disaster.But, It is important to note that Chernobyl occurred near a populated city center and had a significantly greater level of radioactive material. So does Chernobyl level disaster just mean

"Major release of radio­active ­material with widespread health and environmental effects r­equiring implementation of planned and extended ­countermeasures" (Official Definition of L7 Event)

or is it suggestive of:

an estimated 4,000 deaths attributed to the Chernobyl Crisis by an Industry report to the UN and signed by the WHO or the 475,000 deaths attributed by more advanced population studies? .. or the reports that include children of Chernobyl victims and the respiratory and heart issues they experienced? ... they put the number at 1-2 Million attributed deaths

There has never been an accident where 3 reactors experienced failure at the same time, until now.

See Full Report: Nuclears Endless Nightmare

For my research and analysis I included Chelyabinsk, I once was active in SuperFund legislation awareness and as a result met many impacted communities exposed to toxic chemicals at Love Canal, Seneca Babcock and by the Kodak Plant in Rochester, NY - the story of Chelyabinsk- "The Most Polluted Place In The Planet" was not unknown in these crowds. Yet, I see no mention of it in todays news, so I guess it is irrelevant. Chelyabinsk wasnt the location of any great meltdown, but rather a long and deadly poisoning of the water supply.

Arial View of Smoking Reactor
Arial View of Smoking Reactor

Chernobyl , Ukraine INES 7

A markerchernobyl -
Chernobyl, Kievs'ka oblast, Ukraine
get directions

Site of Level 7 INES Nuclear Event - 30km area deemed uninhabitable


A marker40°9′14″N 76°43′29″W -
Three Mile Island Generating Station, Middletown, PA 17057, USA
get directions

A markerchelyabinsk -
Chelyabinsk, Province of Chelyabinsk, Russia
get directions

Trusted Sources to Donate for Japan Assistance

Red Cross: Text REDCROSS to 90999 to donate $10 from your phone (you'll be prompted to confirm with a second text reading YES).

ShelterBox: To give, go to your country's page and click "Donate."

International Medical Corps: go to its site

GlobalGiving: is accepting donations online, with a funding goal of $90, 000.

Convoy of Hope: Donate online or via phone by texting TSUNAMI to 50555

Salvation Army: Donate online or by texting JAPAN or QUAKE to 80888 to make a $10 donation.

Doctors Without Borders: Donations can be made online  Fukushima explosion  Beauty of Fukushima  People of Fukushima


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    • Deborah Demander profile image

      Deborah Demander 6 years ago from First Wyoming, then THE WORLD

      Thanks for writing this hub SunForged. I appreciate the time you put into research and writing.


    • Gypsy Willow profile image

      Gypsy Willow 6 years ago from Lake Tahoe Nevada USA , Wales UK and Taupo New Zealand

      This is a very sad lesson for us all. Perhaps building a nuclear power station in a seismically active zone isn't a sound idea!

    • Amelia Blick profile image

      Amelia Blick 6 years ago from UK

      Thanks, I found this a well written and informative hub.

    • Leighsue profile image

      Leighsue 6 years ago

      This is very informative. You did a great job. It is really scarry.

    • ubalildon profile image

      ubalildon 6 years ago

      what a pity

    • youngdubliner profile image

      youngdubliner 6 years ago from Dublin, Ireland

      praying waht happened to Chernobyl won't happen in Japan. people in Japan already suffered a lot, hopefully their government will do whatever it could to stop another disaster. nice hub!

    • CARIBQUEEN profile image

      CARIBQUEEN 6 years ago

      This hub is quite informative and gives us something to think about. I wonder if either Governments (Japan & US) understand the far-reaching effects of this recent catastrophe. I think that they are still in a state of shock and do not know what to really tell the population. Whatever they say, people are still panicking and fleeing all over the place. It is like a "wait and see" what will happen next. No-one can really predict and inform accurately what will take place. How do they handle radioactive material that can travel via wind and air. How will it affect our food supply in the West. There are so many questions and so few answers. So we too have to wait and see. Great Hub.

    • Bible Studies profile image

      Bible Studies 6 years ago from PA

      Update to what I previously said: from mail online The moment nuclear plant chief WEPT as Japanese finally admit that radiation leak is serious enough to kill people

      By David Derbyshire

      Last updated at 3:54 PM on 19th March 2011

      Read more:

    • Bible Studies profile image

      Bible Studies 6 years ago from PA

      Also, I saw a youtube video yesterday from a person in Japan saying all that is on their television is regular programing. The Japanese government isn't telling it's citizens anything. He said all that is told to him is to stay indoors.

      I have been wondering why more people have not been evacuated. I did read on another forum that staying indoors if you do not have a fall out shelter and can not evacuate is better than staying outside. That person gave more of a scientific explanation that I can't remember as to why being outside is worse.

      I believe this is much worse than the government is telling everyone. Last time I heard there are 4 reactors in trouble.

    • Eiddwen profile image

      Eiddwen 6 years ago from Wales

      A very well informed and presented hub. All the hard work that you have so obviously put into it has paid off.

      Take care


    • rebekahELLE profile image

      rebekahELLE 6 years ago from Tampa Bay

      Thanks for writing such an outstanding look at the seriousness of this tragic event, and the implications which are still unknown as to it's global effect. I have a hard time watching the coverage, but I do listen and read to stay informed. I'm still in awe at the great discipline of the Japanese people, after losing everything and with so much uncertainty regarding their safety, they persevere and remain relatively calm. It's so sad that it takes events like this for people to recognize both the value and futility of human life, we are here but for a short time. Life should be lived with our arms wide open. Again, thanks for a well-written, informative article about this terrible crisis.

    • Lily Rose profile image

      Lily Rose 6 years ago from East Coast

      You did a really great job on this hub, SF - very informative, interesting, and touching...