Today’s page 3 headline in The Times:
Japan radiation leak may be worse than Chernobyl
A worrying headline indeed, especially with all of the associated implications of dropping the C-word, mainly due to the re-categorisation of the incident from Level 5 to Level 7 on the International Nuclear Event Scale (INES).
However, on closer inspection of the actual article, specifically the Q&A section further down, the headline does not quite ring true:
Does this mean that Fukushima is as serious an accident as Chernobyl?
No. The INES scale is not finely graded, so Level 7 incidents can vary widely in severity. Chernobyl remains a far more serious accident. To date, the amount of radioactive material released at Fukushima has been a tenth of that released into the atmosphere at Chernobyl and confined to a much smaller area.
Hmmmm, that’s slightly disingenuous; maybe they should have just published this xkcd comic:
UPDATE: Quote by Hiroshi Horiike, Professor of Nuclear Engineering at Osaka University, in Time magazine (25th April 2011) regarding the increase in severity level of the crisis to the maximum of seven:
We should not consider the two incidents as the same…Fukushima is not a Chernobyl.