Friday, November 25, 2016


For some Japanese in Fukushima Prefecture, the sudden shaking that took place in the early morning of Tuesday might have recalled a similar event back in 2011 that may almost have changed the geographical face of the Tohoku region. So it’s probably a huge relief for them that the latest earthquake to hit their part of the country was a couple magnitudes weaker.

The Telegraph has it that the earthquake, registered at magnitude 7.4, struck Fukushima in northeastern Honshu at about 6 in the morning Japan time. The Japan Meteorological Agency reported that the quake occurred at a depth of about 30km underground. They also issued a tsunami alert in conjunction with the tremor with the possibility of waves reaching 3 meters high at Fukushima, and another at nearby Miyagi prefecture after the port city of Sendai measured waves of 1.4 meters in height. Still, by the time of 10AM local, the warning was downgraded to an advisory.

Rupert Wingfield-Hayes of the BBC in Tokyo reported that at least three people in Fukushima were injured in the earthquake, while tens of thousands of residents in the area were quick to heed the initial tsunami warnings and made for inland or higher ground. The Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, heavily damaged by the 2011 quake and tsunami, was placed under heightened observation by Tokyo Electric Power for possible damage after 1-meter waves slammed against the coastline where it was situated.

It should be recalled that the 2011 Tohoku quake and tsunami slightly altered the shape of the coast while killing 20,000 people, and the meltdown at Fukushima Daiichi brought on by the disaster forced the displacement about 100,000 Fukushima residents after the surrounding landscape was contaminated.

Regarding the possibility of another accident at the plant, a televised news conference held by Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga revealed that the third reactor’s water cooling system has gone down, but no serious damage or system abnormalities have been seen in the plant’s various other facilities.

The plant operator has assured the public that the resulting temperature increase due to the cooling deactivation was thankfully minute and within safety limits, and that the same water cooling system was eventually checked out and reactivated. The system is required for the plant’s stores of nuclear fuel, despite the fact that the reactors have long been shut down since 2011.

Interestingly the US Geological Survey pegged the earthquake’s magnitude to merely 6.9, lower than their Japanese counterparts. The associated tremors were reported to have been felt all the way to Tokyo, where buildings were observed to have vibrated slightly for half a minute. For safety reasons Nissan called off work at their Fukushima automobile factory while oceangoing ships began moving away from port docks.

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