Japan Doubles Fallout Estimate

Government promises to create independent watchdog
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 7, 2011 12:51 PM CDT
In this March 15 photo, smoke billows from Unit 3 of the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant.   (AP Photo/Tokyo Electric Power Co., File)
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(Newser) – The closer investigators look, the worse the news gets out of Japan's Fukushima Dai-ichi plant. A new government report doubles the estimated radioactive fallout from 370,000 to 770,000 terabecquerels so far, reports the BBC. If a terabecquerel sounds a little obscure, it may be easier to fathom that the total is about 15% of the Chernobyl fallout. The government also acknowledged it was woefully unprepared to handle a disaster of this scope and promised to create an independent nuclear agency, one that doesn't also serve to promote the industry as under the current set-up, notes the Washington Post.

"In light of the lessons learned from the accident, Japan has recognized that a fundamental revision of its nuclear safety preparedness and response is inevitable,'' said a report outline. Investigators also said three reactors at the plant went into meltdown earlier than thought and conceded the possibility that nuclear fuel melted through inner containment vessels, not just the core, notes AP. Ground contamination could be far worse as a result.

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