Nuclear regulators have raised the severity level of the situation at the troubled Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant following new assessments of radiation leaks.
Significant contamination of air, tap water, vegetables, and seawater around the plant led officials to increase the severity rating from 5 to 7, placing it on par with the infamous Chernobyl disaster which devastated the Ukraine in 1986.
A number of aftershocks have caused complications in the efforts to stem radiation leaks at the Japanese plant.
The latest, a 6.3 magnitude quake, led to the brief evacuation of the plant Tuesday. Officials are reporting that Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan will likely issue deadlines for the stoppage of radiation leaks in the coming days.
While most still contend that the situation in Japan is far from a Chernobyl-like disaster, the upgrade in severity level is a concern for some of Japan’s neighbors.
China and South Korea, two countries already critical of Japan’s containment plans, now must rethink the impact the situation will have on their respective nations in the future.