Japan earthquake: A massive 7.3 magnitude tremor leads to a leak in a nuclear power plant

Japan earthquake: A massive 7.3 magnitude tremor leads to a leak in a nuclear power plant

A massive earthquake off the coast of Japan caused a nuclear plant fuel leak.

The 7.3-magnitude earthquake near Fukushima on Saturday evening, local time, killed dozens of people and caused widespread power outages.

The Japan Meteorological Agency said the quake was 60 km deep and arrived shortly after 11 pm (2 pm GMT).

At least 20 people were injured, according to reports from Kyodo News.

It appears to have failed to cause significant damage and no tsunami warning was issued by officials.

Even so, the most troubling of the reports are reports of a leak at the Fukushima Daini nuclear power plant, according to public broadcaster NHK – although the facility’s owners have denied this.

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The pond water used to store spent nuclear fuel may have leaked, it was reported

The port said that the water of the pond used to store spent nuclear fuel may have leaked and contaminated the surrounding area.

However, reports also indicate that the risks to workers and the surrounding area are low because the level of radiation is not a great danger.

TEPCO A plant patrol reported that about 160ml of pond water for storing spent nuclear fuel in Unit 1 “in preparation for decommissioning in Fukushima Prefecture has leaked into a pit next to the pool.”

A worker cleans broken bottles in a liquor store after a strong earthquake in Fukushima
A worker cleans broken bottles in a liquor store after a strong earthquake in Fukushima

“It seems that it overflowed due to the earthquake earthquake, but the amount is small according to the Nuclear Regulatory Authority. There is no effect on cooling the nuclear fuel, and the radiation dose is low, so there is no concern about exposure to workers.”

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The report continued that, as of 1.40 am local time: “No significant anomaly was found at the Fukushima Daini nuclear power plant, and there is no change in the values ​​of monitoring centers that measure radiation levels around the nuclear power plant.”

A Reuters photographer in Fukushima said his hotel room on the tenth floor shook for some time and a man in the hotel was taken to the hospital and hit his head with the door.

File folders and other items were seen strewn on the floor of Hirono's town office after a strong earthquake
File folders and other items were seen strewn on the floor of Hirono’s town office after a strong earthquake

The photographer added that although he was injured, the man was still able to walk.

Television footage showed broken glass from storefronts.

Government spokesman Katsunobu Kato told a news briefing on NHK that about 950,000 homes had no electricity.

Seismic map of a 7.0-magnitude earthquake in Japan
7.3 magnitude earthquake intensity map

Power outages appear to be concentrated in northeastern Japan, including Fukushima and neighboring prefectures.

Despite the reports, Tokyo Electric Power Holding Company, which owns the Fukushima Daiichi and Daini nuclear power plants, said there were no irregularities.

The facility also said there was no change in radiation levels around its factories.

People stand in front of the ticket gates at JR Sendai station in Sendai
People stand in front of the ticket gates at JR Sendai station in Sendai

Kato said there had been no wrongdoing at the Onagawa nuclear facility.

“Regarding the assessment of damage, loss and structural damage,” he said, adding that parts of the express train had been suspended due to power outages.

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“The surveys are taking place at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant,” he said.

“We have received reports that the Onagawa nuclear plant and the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant are showing no defects,” he added.

Ambulance crew members stand in the corridor of the hotel where a man was injured in the earthquake
Ambulance crew members stand in the corridor of the hotel where a man was injured in the earthquake

Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga has been summoned to his office, and NHK said the government will set up a special liaison office to coordinate with the affected areas.

“We will continue to respond, putting human lives first,” Suga told reporters early Sunday, adding that there were no reports of serious injuries.

The earthquake occurred in Fukushima just weeks before the tenth anniversary of the March 11, 2011 earthquake that devastated northeastern Japan.

It triggered a massive tsunami that led to the world’s worst nuclear crisis in a quarter of a century – one centered at the Daiichi facility.

Earthquakes are common in Japan, which is one of the world’s most seismically active regions.

The country accounts for about 20 percent of earthquakes of magnitude 6 or more in the world.

Ayhan Fletcher

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