Japan’s Nuclear Crisis Reaches Chernobyl Threat Level

For indispensable reporting on the coronavirus crisis, the election, and more, subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter.


The situation at Japan’s ailing Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant continues to be bleak, as officials on Tuesday raised the threat level from 5 to 7—the highest on the international scale and equal to the 1986 disaster at Chernobyl.

While officials said they believe that the levels of radiation released so far are only 10 percent of the Chernobyl release, the projections for the long term are grim. “The radiation leak has not stopped completely and our concern is that it could eventually exceed Chernobyl,” Junichi Matsumoto, an executive of the plant’s operator, Tokyo Electric Power Co., told the New York Times.

From Japan’s Kyodo News:

A considerable amount of radioactive materials emitted is believed to originate from the plant’s No. 2 reactor, whose containment vessel’s pressure suppression chamber was damaged by an explosion on March 15, said Kenkichi Hirose, a Cabinet Office adviser serving for the safety commission, at a news conference.

“Our estimates suggest the amount of radioactive materials released into the air sharply rose on March 15 and 16 after abnormalities were detected at the No. 2 reactor,” Hirose said. ”The cumulative amount of leaked radiation has been gradually on the rise, but we believe the current emission level is significantly low.”

DOES IT FEEL LIKE POLITICS IS AT A BREAKING POINT?

Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest