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Fukushima is no Chernobyl: Russian nuclear expert

Fukushima is no Chernobyl: Russian nuclear expert
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The Japanese authorities have raised the severity of the Fukushima incident from 5 to 7.

It is a level that has only been recorded once before – during the Chernobyl catastrophe.

Serguei Novikov, spokesman for the Russian state nuclear energy corporation ROSATOM, and a member of the Fukushima monitoring group spoke to euronews from Moscow.

Ioulia Poukhli, euronews:
Mr Novikov on the one hand the Japanese nuclear security agency rated the severity of the Fukushima situation at the highest level, but on the other it said that the radioactive discharges into the air are less than 10% of the levels registered immediately after Chernobyl. How do you explain that?

Serguei Novikov, ROSATOM:
You know the most terrible thing that could have occured was 6 reactor cores and the fuel in the storage pools melting. As you know it did not come to that.

Now we are talking about melting at just one of the reactors along with the fuel which is still in the containment shell and it looks like it will continue like that.

It was not the same at Chernobyl.

And reading the details given by the Japanese authorities, it’s gone from one extreme to the other.

To begin with the threat was was obviously underestimated and now it’s obviously exaggerated.

What we can see looks maybe like a level 6 on the INES scale.

Our French collegues agreed with this several days ago, and our estimations were close to it.

It looks like the IAEA will rate this accident as a 6 as well.

It’s dangerous in any case – but there’s no need to frighten the population.

We know the level of contamination of the ground, but at Fukushima it’s made worse by the fact that the Japanese plant has the sea all around with all the resources consumed by man. What’s your reading of events?

Serguei Novikov, ROSATOM:
You know, all the monitoring by Japanese and Russian specialists shows that at the border of the 20 kilometre exclusion zone the radioactivity level is reaching normal. If you talk about a 200 kilometre zone, that includes Tokyo, the radiation level today is lower than in Moscow.

And there have not been traces of caesium or iodine 131 in tap water since the 10th of April.

More and more observers are saying that Fukushima could turn public opinion against nuclear power for a long time, if not for good. What do you think the Russian persepctive is, and indeed that of the rest of the world?

Serguei Novikov, ROSATOM:
I’d like to tell all the commentators who advance theories like that to base their arguments on the facts, the real consequences of the accident.

What do we know about it? Yes the accident is serious, it’s ridiculous not to admit that. But if you look at the effect of what’s happened on human health, as far as I know out of the 20,000 dead after the earthquake and tsunami, none has died from radiation.

Even the emergency workers in areas with high radioactivity levels haven’t yet received the maximum allowed dose, defined by the Japanese government as 250 millisieverts, which means there’ll be no radiological consequences for their health.

I would ask everyone to wait for the end of this crisis at Fukushima before judging the consequences for atomic energy around the world.