China’s nuclear safety agency said radiation from Japan’s leaking Fukushima Daiichi plant is no immediate threat to Chinese residents, playing down parallels with Chernobyl, the world’s worst nuclear disaster.
The Chinese Ministry of Environmental Protection, which also acts as the nuclear safety watchdog, nonetheless said the “long-term consequences of the Fukushima accident cannot be ignored”, and the government would continue assessing its impact on China’s environment and seas.
Radiated water dumped from Fukushima “is likely to have a certain impact on aquatic life”, the ministry said in a statement, which was dated Tuesday but appeared on the government website (www.gov.cn) on Wednesday.
“Its impact on our country’s environment has been small, equivalent to about one percent of the impact of the Chernobyl nuclear accident on our country,” said the ministry.
“There is no need to adopt protective measures.”
The statement appeared after Beijing issued an account of Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao’s phone call on Tuesday with Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan, when the Chinese leader also sought to show Beijing is taking the radiation leak seriously but without sowing panic among the Chinese people.
“The Chinese government and people express their concern about this,” Wen told Kan.
Chinese officials sent aid and rescue teams to help Japan after its March 11 earthquake and tsunami, which triggered the nuclear crisis, underscoring hopes that the disaster may help heal ties, which went through months of strain over a maritime territorial dispute last year.
The Ministry of Environmental Protection said that radiation levels from Fukushima appeared to have stabilised.
“The amount released has reduced, and there is very little radiation that is being directly blown onto China,” it said.
On Tuesday, Japan put its nuclear calamity in the same category as the world’s worst nuclear disaster, the Chernobyl nuclear meltdown in 1986, but the upgrade to the highest level on a globally recognised scale did not mean the situation had suddenly become more critical.
No radiation-linked deaths have been reported since the earthquake struck, triggering a tsunami that battered the Fukushima power plant. Agencies