May 19, Thursday

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吉村 昭 (著)
about 明治29年、昭和8年、そして昭和35年

Sanriku Coast - Three Great Tsunami of the Past

This is a book about the great tsunami that have hit Sanriku before this one, published in 2004.

The author has travelled widely in the region and interviewed a lot of people. Many were quite convinced that such an envent would never happen again and that their villages were well prepared.


Gabi reports:

Fukushima is not only a meltdown of three reactors, but most probably a
"meltthrough" メルトスルー.

The leaders of Japan, China and South Korea are scheduled to meet in Tokyo during this weekend. They are expected to call for cooperation on nuclear safety following the disaster at the Fukushima power plant.

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My prefecture, Okayama, is now preparing for the next Nankai earthquake. The last one was in 1946.
We saw a man remembering this one when he was about 15 years old. He lived behind the harbour wall and all the homes were destroyed by the quake and following tsunami. He said he stood near the wall, trying to prevent from swaying, but could not stand up and had to hold on to the ground with his hands.
He will never forget this experience and even now sleeps lightly, with a ready bag full of emergency goods at the exit of his home.

The next Nankai Earthquake 南海地震 is expected to be around magnitude 8.4 (about 4 times the size of the 1946 occurrence) and will produce tremors of magnitude 5 or 6 on the Japanese scale. The tsunami is expected to be more than 3 meters high.

source : the Next Nankai Earthquake

Nankai megathrust earthquakes
© More in the WIKIPEDIA !

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Danger in the Lowground:
Historical Context for the March 11, 2011 Tōhoku Earthquake and Tsunami
Gregory Smits

The March 11, 2011 Tōhoku Earthquake and the tsunami it generated was a classic case of natural hazards such as severe ground motion and seismic sea waves coming into contact with human society to produce a multi-dimensional natural disaster. Throughout Japanese history, writers often initially referred to such events as “unprecedented.” As time passed, other commentators would point out that in fact such events were “normal” in that they occurred repeatedly in the past.
The Tōhoku region is subject to shaking from fault ruptures in four types of locations:
1) ocean trench earthquakes off the Sanriku or Fukushima coast,
2) intra-plate earthquakes originating under northern Honshū or the Pacific,
3) shallow-focus inland earthquakes;
4) intra-plate earthquakes originating under the Sea of Japan. Three of these four types of earthquakes often generate tsunamis.

At 2:31 in the morning of March 2, 1933, the magnitude 8.1 Sanriku Earthquake (sometimes called the Shōwa Sanriku Earthquake) shook residents awake.
source : japanfocus.org

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Many people in the tsunami area now suffer from a new kind of lung infection, due to the dust inhaled. Since many walk in the area, looking for mementos of their loved ones, without any protection, they inhale the dust. Dust is also produced during the cleaning efforts of big trucks and cranes, which create huge clouds of dust which drift toward the towns.
hedoro funjin haien ヘドロ粉じん肺炎
This mud and dust contains many poisonous substances, including oil particles and dioxin.

. . . . .

The number of foreign tourists visiting Japan in April has fallen by more than 60% in the wake of the March 11th disaster. Many hotels are still empty and souvenir shops are not making any profit.


Bulletins from NHK Online
source : www3.nhk.or.jp

Thursday, May 19, 2011 02:57
Radiation level at No.3 reactor water intake rises
The operator of the damaged nuclear power plant in Fukushima has reported a sharp rise in the concentration of a radioactive material in samples of seawater near the Number 3 reactor.
Tokyo Electric Power Company says it detected 110 becquerels of radioactive cesium-134 per cubic centimeters in seawater samples taken on Wednesday morning.
The level is 1,800 times the national legal limit, compared to 550 times, which was reported the previous day.
The utility also found 120 becquerels of cesium-137, 1,300 times higher than the limit.
Last Wednesday at the same location near the water intake of the Number 3 reactor, water contaminated with highly radioactive substances was found flowing into the sea from a pit. TEPCO says it detected cesium-134 at 32,000 times the legal limit.
In its latest announcement, TEPCO said the concentration of radioactive iodine in seawater samples from the same location fell from 1,900 times the limit on Monday to 630 times on Tuesday.
The utility also said it detected radioactive materials at levels higher than the national limit at 2 of the 4 survey points along the shoreline near the plant.
It says cesium-134 with a concentration level 1.8 times the limit was found at a point 330 meters south of the water drainage gates of the Number 1 to 4 reactors.
New cooling systems to be installed at fuel pools
The operator of the damaged Fukushima nuclear power plant is likely to start operating a new system within 2 weeks to cool spent fuel in reactor Number 2.
Tokyo Electric Power Company says it is preparing to install cooling systems in 4 of the 6 reactor buildings, 3 months earlier than initially planned.
TEPCO says it is laying power cables for a cooling system for Number 2 reactor's spent fuel pool. A heat exchanger will be brought into the facility early next week to start operating the cooling system by the end of this month.
Workers entered the Number 2 reactor building on Wednesday for the first time since a hydrogen explosion on March 15th. They tried to check radiation levels but left the building after 14 minutes because it was filled with steam, making further work impossible.
The utility says the vapor appears to be coming from the damaged suppression chamber as well as from the fuel pool itself.
Senior TEPCO official Junichi Matsumoto says he believes cooling the spent fuel pool will help reduce steam inside the reactor.
TEPCO reports more than 90 percent humidity inside the Number 2 reactor building. Matsumoto says the building's roof is intact, making it more prone to filling with steam. Number 1 and 3 reactor buildings are exposed to the air because hydrogen explosions blew off their roofs and walls.

Thursday, May 19, 2011 08:35
Power companies ask why they must share damages
Japanese power companies want to know why they are being asked to help the operator of the damaged Fukushima nuclear plant to pay damages to those affected by the disaster.
The government decided on a framework last week to help Tokyo Electric Power Company to pay damages.
The plan asks other utilities operating nuclear power plants to contribute funds for compensation.
The Federation of Electric Power Companies submitted a petition to the Natural Resources and Energy Agency on Wednesday.
The companies want an explanation why they are being asked to share damages payments.
They also want details about the size of compensation as they say the plan might force them to pass on costs to consumers through higher power bills.
They say the government should be held responsible for compensation payments as it has long promoted nuclear power generation as one of energy sources for Japan.
The federation says the utilities may face legal action by shareholders due to lack of accountability if they make financial contributions without clarifying the reasons.

Thursday, May 19, 2011 10:59
GDP shrinks in quarter of quake
The Japanese economy shrank 0.9 percent in the January to March quarter, reflecting the broad economic impact of the March 11th quake and tsunami disaster.
Cabinet Office figures show Japan's GDP fell for a second straight quarter. The 0.9 percent fall translates to an annualized 3.7 percent shrinkage....
The data shows the Japanese economy shrank sharply in the 20 days following the disaster.
Private financial institutions forecast that GDP will again shrink in the April-to-June quarter as private consumption and investment remain weak.

Thursday, May 19, 2011 12:47
Workers enter No.3 reactor
Workers have entered the Number 3 reactor building at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant for the first time since a hydrogen explosion 3 days after the March 11th quake and tsunami.
Tokyo Electric Power Company says 2 workers in protective suits and carrying air tanks went inside for about 10 minutes from 4:30 PM Wednesday to check radiation levels.
TEPCO says the workers measured radiation of 160 to 170 millisieverts per hour around the door of the containment vessel.
The utility says it would be difficult to start work on injecting nitrogen gas needed to prevent a hydrogen blast into the containment vessel under such high radiation levels.
The utility said the 2 workers were exposed to radiation of 2 to 3 millisieverts.
TEPCO has now been able to send workers into all 3 reactors that were operating at the time of the quake and tsunami. Workers entered the Number 1 reactor building on May 5th and the Number 2 reactor on Wednesday morning.
TEPCO is rushing to make the reactor buildings safe enough for workers to go inside and proceed with the plans outlined in its roadmap to stabilize the reactors.
This includes installing new cooling systems to circulate water leaked from containment vessels back into the reactors and the nitrogen injections.

Thursday, May 19, 2011 12:58
TEPCO releases photos of tsunami hitting plant
Tokyo Electric Power Company has released photos showing its Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant being swamped by the tsunami on March 11th.
TEPCO on Thursday showed 17 photographs that were taken from 2 locations within the plant.

Eleven of them were taken from the 4th floor of a waste processing facility near the Number 4 reactor over a 15 minute period from 3:42 PM, when the first wave reached the plant roughly one hour after the massive earthquake struck.
By 3:43 PM muddy seawater had engulfed a 4.3-meter tall fuel tank and washed away cars. The water began receding after another minute.
At 3:57 PM, the fuel tank was visible again, but the only car still visible had been flipped upside down.
Other photos, taken from near the Number 5 reactor, capture the tsunami approaching 3 water and fuel tanks on the coast.
The photos show the tanks and around 7 cars disappear under water.
A photo taken after the waves had receded show the bottom part of a tank twisted and dented.

Thursday, May 19, 2011 16:34
A special new forklift for Fukushima
A Japanese firm has shown media a newly developed special forklift with a radiation-proof cabin. The large forklift is expected to help dispose of radioactive debris and rubble from the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.
The forklift is developed by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and measures seven meters long, weighs 30 tons and has a load capacity of up to nine tons.
The cabin is fully sealed by 10-centimeter-thick steel plates and more than 20 centimeter-thick lead-glass.
The cabin also has a special filter that shuts out contaminated dust.
Two of the special forklifts will be sent to the Fukushima plant.
Tokyo Electric Power Company, which runs the plant, has so far been using remote-controlled machines to remove rubble. But an operator in the radiation-proofed cabin can drive the new forklifts, closely monitoring the plant compound and this can speed up the work to dispose of the debris.
An official from Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Yasufumi Ohsaki, says that the machine was developed within one month after the nuclear disaster in order to cope with the severe working conditions there. He hopes it will hasten the reconstruction of the devastated areas.

Thursday, May 19, 2011 17:37
Japan to improve tsunami warning system
Japan's Meteorological Agency says it will set up an expert panel to learn from the lessons of the March 11th disaster and examine how to improve its tsunami warning system.
Agency chief Mitsuhiko Hatori told a news conference on Thursday that the 10-member panel to be launched next month will include earthquake and tsunami experts, central and local government officials and media representatives.
The panel will scrutinize the warnings issued after the huge earthquake on March 11th and discuss what else can be done to help people evacuate more quickly.
Hatori said the agency took full advantage of the latest technology available in issuing warnings, but the height of the tsunami was much higher than the agency had forecast.
The agency will convene the first meeting of the panel on June 8th. The agency will also get input from a government panel of experts on disaster preparedness in drawing up an outline for improving the warning system by this fall.

Thursday, May 19, 2011 19:13
Trace of radioactive materials detected in Osaka
Traces of radioactive material blown far from the troubled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant have been detected in the western Japanese city of Osaka.
Osaka's Institute of Public Health announced on Thursday that tiny amounts of cesium-134 and cesium-137 were found in samples collected from its rooftop between April 1st and May 2nd.
The institute has collected rain and dust samples for its monthly analysis for radiation.
It says it was the first-ever detection of cesium-134, and that levels of cesium-137 were 100 times higher than usual, concluding that the materials probably come from the Fukushima plant.
The institute says that a year's exposure to those levels of radiation would be less than one 10-thousandth the amount found occurring naturally, and has no impact on human health.

Thursday, May 19, 2011 19:24
Workers find pools of water at No.2
Tokyo Electric Power Company, or TEPCO, says radiation levels inside the Number 2 reactor building at the Fukushima Daiichi plant appear to be much lower than in the Number 1 building.
TEPCO says if high humidity inside the Number 2 building can be reduced, the relatively low level of radiation will make it easier to work in than Number 1.
Four workers entered the Number 2 building on Wednesday through a double door on the south side --the first entry by humans since an explosion in mid-March.
The utility says the workers measured levels of radiation in the air as they walked around the containment vessel, and came up with readings ranging from 50 millisieverts per hour to less than 10.
The workers found three pools of water on the floor, and saw water dropping down from above in some places.
The presence of so much water is apparently due to the condensation of steam rising from the spent fuel storage pool on the upper floor.

Thursday, May 19, 2011 20:58
Disaster reconstruction bills debated
Japan's Diet has started debating bills to help reconstruct areas affected by the March 11th disaster.
At a Lower House plenary session on Thursday, Prime Minister Naoto Kan called on opposition parties to cooperate for the bills' early enactment.
The legislation includes a basic draft bill covering reconstruction measures including the creation of a task force comprising all cabinet ministers to be in charge of reconstruction. Also being discussed are draft revisions of laws to increase the number of cabinet ministers.
Kan said new ministers would be in charge of disaster reconstruction and the nuclear disaster.
The largest opposition Liberal Democratic Party has submitted a counterproposal that includes creating a new agency to manage the reconstruction by integrating functions and authorities of all ministries.
LDP policy research chief Shigeru Ishiba stressed the need for such a centralized body.
The main governing Democratic Party says it is ready to accept amendments, and that cooperation from the opposition is essential for the bills' early passage.

Thursday, May 19, 2011 20:58
S.Korea raises $9 mil. for disaster-hit Japan
A South Korean welfare organization has raised about 9 million dollars in donations for survivors of the March 11th disaster.
The chairman of the Community Chest of Korea, Lee Dong Kurn, visited Community Chest Japan in Tokyo on Thursday to deliver about 3 million dollars from the donations.
The total donation is the largest the South Korean organization has raised for survivors of a disaster overseas.


Voices from around

. Daily Radiation Levels .  

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Japan Times :

Failed venting tries linked to No. 2 damage
Two failed attempts to vent steam soon after the March 11 quake and tsunami most likely damaged the containment vessel of the Fukushima No. 1 power plant's No. 2 reactor.

Workers enter building of reactor 2

IAEA team to arrive Tuesday for Fukushima probe

Aquaculture damage over \100 billion
The nation's aquaculture industry suffered more than \100 billion in damage from the March 11 disasters, a government survey shows.

Release of radioactive water made at request of U.S.: Cabinet adviser
Playwright Oriza Hirata 平田オリザ, a special adviser to the Cabinet, claims Japan dumped radioactive water into the Pacific Ocean after a "strong request" from the United States.

Shape of new Tohoku should emerge in five years: Iokibe

Quake dashes French bid to halt oyster blight

Tepco compensation plan
Compensation will be paid to those who were evacuated from their homes as well as to farmers, fishermen and others who have suffered financial losses due to the accidents.

Edo disaster images strike grim chords
"The Five Hundred Arhats by Kano Kazunobu"
exhibition at Edo-Tokyo Museum

CLICK for my entry .



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  1. Earthquake challenges basic assumptions of seismology

    Asahi Shinbun

    Northeast Japan may be far more seismologically dangerous than previously thought, according to scientists investigating the Great East Japan Earthquake.

    The huge scale of the March 11 temblor appears to challenge existing models of the region's geology, according to the scientists.

    They are now investigating whether a previously unknown cause of giant earthquakes may have been triggering massive events in the region at intervals of between several hundred and 1,000 years.

    There are written records of a "great Jogan tsunami" that killed more than 1,000 people in the Tohoku region in 869, and The National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology identified a giant earthquake that hit during the Muromachi Period (1338-1573).

    It is unclear whether those events were on the same scale as the latest disaster, but the scientists believe they may be part of a previously misunderstood pattern of activity in the region.

    The government's Earthquake Research Committee had only envisaged an earthquake of about magnitude 7.5 off the coast of Miyagi Prefecture, and had posited a maximum magnitude-8.0 event if an adjacent source to the east moved simultaneously.

    One explanation for the scale of the March 11 quake would be that a number of sources moved at the same time, but some researchers say the coincidence of several magnitude-7.0 earthquake sources would not necessarily add up to a magnitude-9.0 event.

    The Pacific plate is moving at a speed of about 8 centimeters annually. A 24-meter slip would indicate a release of stress accumulated over about 300 years, Furumoto says.

    "It cannot be explained by the idea that magnitude 7-class events simply coincided," Furumoto says. "Stresses released by magnitude 7-level earthquakes recurring at intervals of several decades only account for a small fraction of the (energy involved here). These forces may have been building up over a long time."

    Other accepted truths are being challenged by the earthquake. It was thought that giant earthquakes were unlikely to occur near the Japan Trench, where the Pacific plate subducts beneath the landward plate.
    The slip was relatively close to the surface and near the trench, causing massive ruptures on the ocean bottom and therefore the giant tsunami that devastated Tohoku, Furumura says.

    He says the new insights afforded by the disaster may also change the understanding of the geology of other regions. The recurring Tonankai and Nankai earthquakes off Japan's southern coast have had differing characteristics through history.
    sunami triggered by the 1605 Keicho event inflicted more damage than the shocks of the earthquake itself. That quake is thought to have occurred near the ocean trench. The 1707 Hoei event, however, inflicted great damage through both shocks and tsunami. Furumura is proposing the novel idea that earthquakes of both types might strike simultaneously.

  2. Anonymous5/21/2011

    We look forward to the time
    when the Power of Love
    will replace the Love of Power.
    Then will our world know the blessings of peace.

    William Ewart Gladstone

  3. Anonymous5/21/2011

    Earthquakes are predicted fairly regularly but this is the first time I've seen major quakes predicted with a certainty of 70% and above . . .
    KD on facebook