Double Quakes Shake Japan After 3/11 Anniversary
On Sunday, March 11 2012, Japan observed the one-year anniversary of the Great East Japan Earthquake (東北地方太平洋沖地震; Tōhoku-chihō Taiheiyō Oki Jishin). Just three days later, an earthquake struck off the coast of Hokkaido and northern Honshu. The preliminary magnitude at 6:09 PM on Wednesday evening measured 6.8 on the Japanese Seismic Intensity Scale. The Meteorological Agency issued tsunami warnings for the coastal areas of Aomori, Iwate, and Hokkaido. While tsunami “swelling” was observed and residents in some areas were instructed to evacuate, no waves formed and no damage or injuries were reported.
At 9:05 PM, a second quake with a preliminary magnitude of 6.1 struck the Kanto (central) region of the main Honshu island, affecting the areas of Ibaraki, Chiba, and Tokyo. No tsunami warnings were issued, but the succession of temblors served as a stark reminder of those events one year ago and the need for disaster preparedness. Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) reported no issues at any plants in the affected areas. Narita International Airport briefly closed its runways as a precaution and several train lines were suspended.
To learn more about the Japanese Seismic Intensity Scale, see these Explanatory Tables (in English):http://www.jma.go.jp/jma/en/Activities/inttable.html.
A Plea For Debris Disposal
On Friday, Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda elevated the issue of nuclear debris disposal to a matter of urgency. He issued awritten plea to municipalities across Japan, requesting assistance in the disposal of debris resulting from last year’s earthquake and tsunami devastation. Currently the amount of waste stands at an estimated 22 millions tons, and only two cities outside the disaster zone have agreed to assist in the disposal.
This debris, the Prime Minister and his Cabinet insist, is not to be confused with the nuclear waste from the Fukushima site. The Chief Cabinet Secretary has made assurances that any radioactive waste has not and will not leave the Fukushima prefecture. However, concerns about radiation persist and prefectural governments remain reluctant to accept any debris. As of early March–one year after the disaster–only 6 percent of the waste has been disposed. Tokyo has been receiving debris since November of 2011, but officials have expressed the need for other municipalities to step up, due to limited storage facilities.
Friday’s mass communication marks the first time the central government has issued such a written request. In related news, the former Australian Sports Minister has made a statement arguing for the country to accept radioactive debrisfrom the Fukushima site for disposal. Overseas, the governments of British Columbia and the U.S. states of Washington, Oregon, and California have agreed to enter into a cooperative plan for dealing with the arrival of tsunami debris that has been steadily drifting across the Pacific Ocean over the past year.
See Prime Minister Noda’s blog post on the subject (Japanese only): http://kawaraban.kantei.go.jp/2012/03/14blog.html.