[March 19 2011]
The Japanese government raised its rating on Friday of the problems at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant to the same level as the 1979 Three Mile Island accident.
The Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency revised upward its evaluation of the severity of the disaster by one notch to Level 5 on the International Nuclear and Radiological Event Scale.
Level 5 is the third highest on the 8-notch scale and the worst for any nuclear accident to have happened in Japan.
The agency says it raised the rating because more than 3 percent of the nuclear fuel has been damaged and radioactive material is leaking from the plant.
The disaster’s initial rating of Level 4 was the same as the fatal criticality accident that occurred at a nuclear fuel plant in Ibaraki Prefecture in 1999.