Fukushima disaster on par with Chernobyl

A technician shows with a pen the Fukushima nuclear power plant on a screen displaying a satellite image of Japan after the earthquake.

JEREMY HOBSON: Japan's prime minister said this morning that radiation leaks are declining at the Fukushima Daiichi plant that was damaged by last month's tsunami. But Japanese authorities now say the disaster is on par with the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear explosion.

From Tokyo, the BBC's Rachel Harvey reports on the economic impact of that news.


RACHEL HARVEY: Level 7 signifies what officials describe as a "major accident" with "wider consequences" than the previous level of 5. The impact of the radiation leaks has been widespread, affecting the air, some tap water, crops and the ocean. But officials say comparisons with Chernobyl are limited and the uprating is mainly technical.

Takeshi Matsunaga is from the Japanese Foreign Affairs Ministry.

TAKESHI MATSUNAGA: The volume of discharge of radioactive material is about one-tenth the discharge of the Chernobyl incident.

Meanwhile a new report from JPMorgan says the plant operator -- Tokyo Electric Power Company -- could have to pay out more than $20 billion to compensate local communities affected by the disaster. Asia's biggest power firm, which has lost three quarters of its share value since the earthquake struck a month ago.

In Tokyo, I'm the BBC's Rachel Harvey, for Marketplace.

Comments

I agree to American Public Media's Terms and Conditions.
With Generous Support From...