TOKYO — Japan is to raise its assessment of the severity of its nuclear emergency to the maximum seven on an international scale, putting it on a par with Chernobyl, reports said Tuesday.
The government currently rates the incident at five, but will boost that to seven, Kyodo and NHK said, citing unnamed sources.
The Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant was badly damaged by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami that hit Japan and has been leaking radiation since, despite efforts to cool and stabilise its reactors.
Kyodo earlier reported that preliminary figures from the country’s Nuclear Safety Commission revealed the battered plant had released 10,000 terabecquerels of radioactive material per hour for several hours.
That calculation prompted Japan to consider upgrading the accident to the highest level — something that has only been given to the 1986 Chernobyl disaster — Kyodo said, citing unnamed government sources.
According to the International Nuclear Events Scale, level seven incidents are ones with a “major release of radioactive material with widespread health and environmental effects requiring implementation of planned and extended countermeasures.”
A strong offshore earthquake rocked Tokyo on Tuesday, swaying buildings in the Japanese capital and stopping subway services.
The US Geological Agency put the magnitude at 6.4, at a depth of 13.1 kilometres (8.1 miles), 77 kilometres east of Tokyo. The Japan Meteorological Agency had measured it at 6.3.
The quake hit at 8:08 am (2308 GMT Monday) off the coast of Chiba prefecture, just east of the capital. Japanese experts said there was no chance of a tsunami.
There were no immediate reports of fresh damage, including at the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, which has been releasing dangerous radioactive materials since it was damaged by the March 11 tsunami, Tokyo Electric Power Co. said.
Subway services in Tokyo temporarily stopped, but resumed operations shortly afterwards.
The runways of Narita international airport in the prefecture were temporarily closed for checks but had since reopened, Kyodo News said.
The limited shinkansen bullet train services running to the northern region since the March 11 earthquake and tsunami were briefly interrupted.
The latest quake was an aftershock “in a broad sense of the word” of the 9.0-magnitude quake of March 11 that killed more than 13,000 and left over 13,500 missing, Koshun Yamaoka, professor at Nagoya University, told public broadcaster NHK.
“We have to be aware of aftershocks, particularly in the first and second months after the original quake,” he said.
Japan has experienced more than 400 aftershocks stronger than magnitude 5.0 since March 11.
Trump just humiliated his own son with an absurd tweet about Greenland
President Donald Trump confirmed multiple reports this weekend when he said that he does, indeed, hope to buy Greenland and make it part of the United States.
Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen has said that the country, which is part of the Kingdom of Denmark, is “not for sale”: “Greenland belongs to Greenland.” Which should be the end of the story. Unfortunately, it’s not.
On Monday, Trump sent the following tweet, apparently trying to quell suspicions that the president just regards Greenland as another place to expand his business empire:
President vows he won’t build a Trump Tower Greenland
Boris Johnson tells EU he wants Brexit deal but without backstop on Ireland
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson wrote Monday to EU President Donald Tusk reaffirming his desire to conclude a Brexit deal as well as his opposition to the controversial "backstop" on Ireland.
The so-called backstop is a mechanism that would keep the UK in EU customs arrangements to prevent a hard border between the British province of Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, an EU member state.
In the letter Johnson stressed that his government wanted to achieve a divorce deal with Brussels.
"You have my personal commitment that this government will work with energy and determination to achieve an agreement. That is our highest priority," Johnson wrote.