Japan doubles estimates of initial Fukushima leak

Japan released new details Tuesday of the battle to contain the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident, after disclosing that the crippled power plant spewed more than twice as much radioactivity as originally estimated.

The release was already bad enough to make Fukushima Daiichi the worst nuclear accident in a quarter-century. The levels disclosed Monday are still a fraction of the amount released in the 1986 Chernobyl disaster, but are closer to some outside estimates.

Radiation levels at one point 20 km northwest of the plant were nearly 1,000 times normal within four days of the accident, far beyond the threshold for long-term health effects, according to a report Japan submitted to the International Atomic Energy Agency on Tuesday. The report found that projections from a radiation-monitoring system should have been released to the public earlier, even though it hard data was lacking at the time.

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