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Japan raises severity rating level for Fukushima nuke plant leak

Tokyo, Aug 29 (): Japan’s nuclear regulator on Wednesday has raised the rating of the latest leak of radiation-contaminated water at its damaged tsunami struck nuclear plant to the level of “serious incident” on an international scale.

The authority originally gave a Level 1 preliminary rating – an “anomaly,” to the tank leak. Last week, the authority proposed raising that to Level 3 – a “serious incident” – and it made that change after consulting with the International Atomic Energy Agency.

According to INES, level 3 indicates a serious threat. The level rating starts from Level 0 (no threat) to the highest level, 7, which was assigned to the Fukushima nuclear plant meltdowns following the March 2011 tsunami, and also to the Chernobyl catastrophe, which happened 25 years before the Japan disaster.

The world’s nuclear watchdog has insisted Japan to describe more clearly what is happening at Fukushima nuclear plant and avoid giving out “confusing messages” about the disaster, the country’s atomic regulator revealed Wednesday.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) cautioned against the frequent use of International Nuclear Event Scale (INES) evaluations in the future, saying this risked clouding the issue in the public mind.

Last week, plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO) said about 300 tons of highly contaminated water had leaked from a storage tank at the Fukushima Daiichi plant. The operator further added the leak was the worst since the start of the nuclear disaster in 2011. Level 7 — “major accident” was applied when three of the reactors suffered meltdowns.

TEPCO has built hundreds of tanks to hold radioactive water, some of which is ground water that made its way to the plant, but hundreds more tons of contaminated water are believed to be entering the sea each day. TEPCO has recovered some of the water that leaked from the tank but says some of it may have reached the sea through a rainwater gutter.