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Magnitude 6.9 Earthquake Strikes Off Japanese Coast, Tsunami Warning



An earthquake with a preliminary magnitude of 7.3 hit northern Japan on Tuesday, the Japan Meteorological Agency said, generating a tsunami that hit the nation’s northern Pacific coast.

The U.S. Geological Survey initially put Tuesday’s quake at a magnitude of 7.3 but down graded it to 6.9.

The earthquake, which was felt in Tokyo, was centered off the coast of Fukushima prefecture at a depth of about 10 km (6 miles) and struck at 5:59 a.m. (2059 GMT) the agency said.

USGS said that it was a shallow quake, at about 10 kilometers, which tended to cause more shaking damage and had greater potential to cause a tsunami.

“The good news here is that the direction the fault was moving is a slight lateral slip. When the faults move laterally they do not create the vertical movement associated with large tsunamis,” the U.S. agency said.

A 60 cm (2 foot) tsunami had been observed at Iwaki city’s Onahama Port and a 90 cm (3 foot) tsunami at Soma Port soon after, public broadcaster NHK said. The region is the same that was devastated by a tsunami following a massive earthquake in 2011. A tsunami warning of up to 3 meters (10 feet) has been issued.



Japan’s chief government spokesman Yoshihide Suga said that a government taskforce had been established to deal with the quake and tsunami, and called on people in affected areas to evacuate, according to media outlet NHK.

NHK also reported that water could be seen moving bath and forth in Onahama Port and that tide levels were rising in some areas on Japan’s eastern coast. Television footage showed ships moving out to sea from Fukushima harbors as tsunami warning signals wailed.



Tokyo Electric Power, known as Tepco, said on its website that no damage from the quake has been confirmed at any of its power plants, although there have been blackouts in some areas. Tepco’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant caused Japan’s worst nuclear disaster when it was knocked out by the 2011 tsunami.

Tohoku Electric Power said there was no damage to its Onagawa nuclear plant, while the Kyodo news agency reported there were no irregularities at the Tokai Daini nuclear plant in Ibaraki Prefecture.

Earthquakes are common in Japan, one of the world’s most seismically active areas. Japan accounts for about 20 percent of the world’s earthquakes of magnitude 6 or greater.

The March 11, 2011, quake was magnitude 9, the strongest quake in Japan on record. The massive tsunami it triggered caused world’s worst nuclear crisis since Chernobyl a quarter of a century earlier.

An Iwaki city fire dept official said there was smoke or fire at Kureha’s research center in a petrochemical complex in Iwaki city at 6:17 a.m., but it was extinguished at 6:40 a.m. Other details were not clear, he said, adding that no other major damage in the city has been reported at the moment.

One hotel in Ofunato, badly hit by the 2011 quake, told guests to stay in the facility, which is on high ground.

All nuclear plants on the coast threatened by the tsunami are shut down in the wake of the 2011 Fukushima disaster. Only two reactors are operating in Japan, both in the southwest of the country. Even when in shutdown nuclear plants need cooling systems operating to keep spent fuel cool.

At Fukushima Daiichi, the plant workers are reporting they felt shaken even in the seismic isolation building. Most of the workers have not come to the plant for today yet. The situation is still under investigation. No further information yet.

At Fukushima Daini,  Tepco said that its water-cooling system for spent fuel at reactor 3 had stopped working at 6:10AM but that there was enough water in the pool to keep the fuel cool, posing no immediate danger. Tepco rebooted the coolant system of SFP 3 of Fukushima DAINI at 7:47AM (JST).




November 22, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , , | Leave a comment

State ignored predictions 10 years before 3/11 tsunami, says seismologist

The March 2011 tsunami that crippled the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant was foreshadowed almost 10 years earlier, but government interference meant the threat was not acted on, seismologist Kunihiko Shimazaki has said.

Shimazaki said a July 2002 prediction by the Headquarters for Earthquake Research Promotion stated an earthquake as big as one in 1896 that caused monster tsunami had a 20 percent chance of occurring somewhere near the Japan Trench within 30 years.

The trench lies in the Pacific and stretches off the Sanriku area in the Tohoku region to the Boso Peninsula off Chiba Prefecture.

The 1896 tsunami triggered by the temblor that struck off Sanriku killed some 22,000 people.

The prediction by the government panel covered areas including waters off Fukushima Prefecture, home to the Fukushima No. 1 plant, which suffered a triple reactor meltdown due to damage from the tsunami unleashed by the March 11, 2011, magnitude-9.0 earthquake that hit Fukushima and other parts in the Tohoku region.

“Compared with earthquakes that occur in active faults once in thousands of years, the probability (of 20 percent in 30 years) is surprisingly high and cannot be ignored,” Shimazaki, who played a central role in drawing up the long-term tsunami prediction and is now professor emeritus at the University of Tokyo, said.

However, he said that just before the release of a report on the prediction, the secretariat of the research headquarters added a paragraph stressing the uncertainty of the forecast.

“An official of the Cabinet Office responsible for anti-disaster measures insisted on having a different committee discuss long-term tsunami prediction,” he said. “This was something that had never happened before, and I felt pressure.” He added, “It was puzzling and frightening.”

Shimazaki said the Central Disaster Prevention Council (CDPC) of the Cabinet Office ended up making tsunami assumptions that were far removed from the prediction by the Headquarters for Earthquake Research Promotion.

The CDPC assumed that only the northern part of the Tohoku region would be hit by tsunami, based on the premise that a recurrence of the 1896 Sanriku earthquake would occur in the same place, explained Shimazaki.

Huge tsunami around the same location near the Japan Trench have occurred at intervals of hundreds of years, and only about 100 years have passed since the 1896 earthquake, he noted.

The CDPC, which is tasked with devising anti-disaster measures based on the government-affiliated research body’s long-term predictions, chose to focus on the low probability and turned its eyes away from waters off the southern part of the Tohoku region, including Fukushima and Ibaraki Prefecture, just south of Fukushima, Shimazaki said.

He admitted that it is difficult for seismologists to predict earthquakes and tsunami with perfect accuracy, saying that while temblors do take place repeatedly in the same area they occur in somewhat different locations.

But Shimazaki added, “We can make assumptions about the location, timing and size to some extent, within certain ranges.

“Such assumptions were made, but were not utilized for the Fukushima No. 1 plant,” he said.

Shimazaki, 70, has also served as chairman of the Coordinating Committee for Earthquake Prediction and acting chairman of the Nuclear Regulation Authority. At the NRA, he played a major role in the work to create the country’s stricter nuclear plant safety standards based on lessons from the Fukushima No. 1 disaster.

Last July, he appeared in court as a witness for plaintiffs suing the central government and Tepco over the nuclear disaster.

“A lot of people died in the quake and tsunami,” Shimazaki said. “I’m also responsible for failing to reduce the damage.”

Stressing that such a disaster that claimed so many lives must never be repeated, Shimazaki said, “We must find out why it happened, but the causes are not being pursued.”

“The mistakes will be repeated if nothing is done,” he said as he explained why he decided to speak in court.

He also said assumptions of tsunami occurring on the Sea of Japan side of the country, announced by a land ministry working group in 2014, were not sufficient.

“If a catastrophic disaster happens again, they might again claim that it was beyond their assumptions,” he said. “That can’t be permitted.”

Although five years have passed since the nuclear meltdowns, Shimazaki said he doubts anything has changed.

“I see lack of clarity and responsibility in committees of experts organized by the state,” he said.

“In the world of science, we can together look for facts and can reach agreement to a certain extent. That is not the case when the state is involved, and mistakes will be repeated if we are not aware of the difference.”

Science is used for decision-making by the state, but scientists do not challenge how this is done, he said.

“They have to say ‘no’ if they think something is wrong, but they are not doing this,” Shimazaki said, adding that the lack of clarity around responsibility remains in five years.

March 24, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , , , | Leave a comment

TEPCO rejected requests for anti-tsunami steps before nuclear crisis

Tokyo Electric Power Co turned down requests in 2009 by the nuclear safety agency to consider concrete steps against tsunami waves at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, which suffered a tsunami-triggered disaster two years later, government documents showed Friday.

“Do you think you can stop the reactors?” a TEPCO official was quoted as telling Shigeki Nagura of the now-defunct Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency, who was then assigned to review the plant’s safety, in response to one of his requests.

The detailed exchanges between the plant operator and regulator came to light through the latest disclosure of government records on its investigation into the nuclear crisis, adding to evidence that TEPCO failed to take proper safety steps ahead of the world’s worst nuclear accident since the 1986 Chernobyl disaster.

According to records of Nagura’s accounts, Nagura heard TEPCO’s explanations of its tsunami estimates at the agency office in Tokyo in August and September 2009 as it was becoming clear that the coastal areas of Fukushima and Miyagi prefectures were hit by massive tsunami in an 869 earthquake.

TEPCO said the height of waves was estimated to be around 8 meters above sea level and will not reach the plant site located at a height of 10 meters, they show.

But Nagura said he remembered thinking pumps with key cooling functions, which are located on the ground at a height of 4 meters, “will not make it” and told TEPCO, “If this is the outcome, you better consider concrete responses.”

In refusing to immediately act, TEPCO said it would wait for related studies to be carried out by the academic society of civil engineers, which it had requested to be done by March 2012.

Nagura also proposed placing the pumps inside buildings to protect them from being exposed to water, but a TEPCO official told him, “Our company cannot make a decision without seeing the results of the (studies by the) society of civil engineers.”

Then another TEPCO official told Nagura, “Do you think you can stop the reactors?” according to the government documents.

Nagura recalled in the documents, “I wondered why I had to be told such a thing.” But he also admitted that, after all, he only encouraged TEPCO to “consider” tsunami countermeasures and did not request that it “take” specific measures.

The Fukushima crisis has revealed how Japan, which had boasted of possessing the world’s safest nuclear power plants, was ill-prepared against a severe nuclear accident. Three reactors suffered core meltdowns after they lost their key cooling functions amid a loss of all electrical power following a huge earthquake and tsunami in March 2011.

The government-appointed nuclear accident investigation panel has already issued a final report, and the government is now gradually disclosing the records of hearings conducted to people involved.

Source: Japan Today

September 26, 2015 Posted by | Japan | , | Leave a comment