Pentagon: No safety changes after Japan nuke crisis upgraded
Published: April 12, 2011
WASHINGTON -- Japan's decision to increase the classification of its nuclear disaster to be on par with Chernobyl is little more than a paper label change, the Pentagon said Tuesday. It will not alter Defense Department directives to protect U.S. military forces or their families.
Pentagon spokesman Col. David Lapan said DOD views the status change as a case of words catching up to reality, not a worsening of the actual crisis.
“It's my understanding that it's mostly a reflection of -- not a change in status, but updating the status to reflect the cumulative radiation hazard over time. So, it’s not some new development that caused it to be raised but a reassessment of the situation,” Lapan said. “There isn't any move right now to change the status of our forces or our family members.”
Japan’s nuclear officials said it was increasing the disaster rating from 5 to 7, the highest on the international scale, because of the spreading radiation on land and sea, as well as in agricultural products, The Associated Press reported.
So far the plant has released just 10 percent the radiation of Chernobyl, the nuclear plant in the Ukraine that exploded and melted down in 1986. There is a 20-mile zone deemed uninhabitable around that site, which has largely been reclaimed by nature.
For complete coverage: Earthquake Disaster in Japan