As the world watches Syria amid concerns of a U.S.-led military intervention, halfway across the globe a nuclear disaster could be unfolding with the potential for years of economic and social repercussions in Japan.
On Wednesday, nuclear regulators in Japan officially raised the severity rating of the latest radioactive water leak at the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant, which was severely affected by the earthquake and tsunami in 2011. The situation has now been classified at Level 3 on an international scale for radiological releases, making the leak a "serious incident."
U.K.-based nuclear energy expert Antony Froggatt told CNBC that the problem at the Fukushima plant was growing – and could haunt Japan's nuclear regulators for a number of years.
"There are many problems ahead and you can look to Chernobyl that happened in 1986 and see that they're still trying to deal with containing radioactivity around the site," said Froggatt, who is a senior research fellow at Chatham House think tank.
Level 3 ratings from regulators were rare, he said, adding that if the problem deteriorated, the authorities may need to appeal for international assistance.
Following the plant's meltdown in 2011, the situation was classified at Level 7, the highest rating on the International Nuclear and Radiological Event Scale.