Fukushima is no Chernobyl says expert

Despite news breaking today that the Fukushima radiation threat has reached the same level as that of the Chernobyl disaster of 1986, a nuclear expert has said that the events […]

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By Tom Gibson

Despite news breaking today that the Fukushima radiation threat has reached the same level as that of the Chernobyl disaster of 1986, a nuclear expert has said that the events in Japan in no way compare to those of 25 years ago.

Professor Andrew Sherry, Director of the University of Manchester’s Dalton Nuclear Institute, told ELN: “When you look at the levels of radiation released from the site it’s still a factor of ten less. The effects will be minimal.

“The Japanese authorities seem to be doing everything right, exclusion zones are set, food production has been removed from the area. The authorities have issued iodine pills to those affected- Chernobyl didn’t do that.”

The professor said that the issues being faced were mainly down to the age of the plants and that the UK doesn’t have such problems:

“Clearly what happened to the 40-50 year old plants at Fukushima wouldn’t happen to a modern plant, due to the way they are now built. If there was an explosion inside, it would stay inside. If a plane were to hit it, that would stay on the outside.”

Many have said that the chances of another Fukushima are small. Professor Sherry said that it was this kind of worst-case scenario that would be looked into in preventing future disasters. Government’s response and retro-fitting capabilities of plants would be the main focus in reviews.

He said: “The chances of compounded severe accidents like this are so unlikely. New policy will be directed by looking into the chances of flooding after an explosion for instance.”

The international community has shown concern over the spread of radiation and comparisons with the Chernobyl disaster won’t do anything to ease those fears. That explosion took radioactive material to 30,000 feet, furthering the spread of harmful material.

Professor Sherry said the effects of the Fukushima incident would be much more contained: “The worst case scenario of Fukushima is that it went up 500 feet, which makes any radioactivity much more localised.”