Japan has activated the tsunami alert on Wednesday due to a magnitude 7.3 earthquake off the coast of the prefectures of Fukushima and Miyagi, in the northeast of the country. After the earthquake, some anomalies have been detected in the Fukushima nuclear plants.
Radioactive water from the Fukushima plant, an urgent problem ten years after the nuclear accident
The earthquake occurred at 11:36 p.m. local time (2:36 p.m. GMT), at a depth of about 60 kilometers, as reported by the Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA), which has warned of a possible tsunami in the most affected area of up to a meter high.
The earthquake has been preceded by another earthquake of lesser intensity, and has reached a high level six on the Japanese scale, out of a maximum of seven and focused on measuring the agitation on the surface and the affected areas rather than on the intensity of the shaking. The earthquake has been strongly felt in other areas of eastern and central Japan, including Tokyo, where it has reached level four on the Japanese scale.
The operator of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, in the process of dismantling since the nuclear crisis triggered by the great earthquake and tsunami of March 2011, is currently analyzing whether any damage has been caused by the new earthquake, as well as at other nearby atomic facilities.
The earthquake has caused power outages in the town of Soma, in Fukushima, as well as in large areas of Tokyo and in the neighboring prefectures of Kanagawa, Chiba and Saitama. As reported by The New York Times, there have been reports of power outages in more than two million homes in the Kanto region and numerous train lines have suspended operations.
Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida has called an emergency meeting to coordinate monitoring of the situation and analyze possible damage.
Several high-speed rail lines have been interrupted in the northeast of the country, while various sections of highways have also been closed as a precaution, as well as Tokyo’s Haneda airport.
Anomalies in nuclear plants that have already been resolved
The operator of the Fukushima I and II nuclear power plants has reported that the strong earthquake in the area has caused the activation of a fire alarm in one of its buildings and the interruption of a used fuel cooling system, problems that have already been resolved.
The fire alarm was activated after the tremor in the building of reactor 5 of the Fukushima Daiichi (I) plant, which has been inoperative since before the 2011 nuclear crisis, while the failure of the cooling system has affected the pools where spent atomic fuel is stored at the Daini plant (II).
The Japanese nuclear regulator has told the state chain NHK that no increases in radioactivity have been detected at the power plants or in their vicinity for the time being after these incidents resulting from the 7.3 magnitude earthquake that shook the Fukushima prefecture.
Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida has stated that “no significant irregularities” have been detected in the plants, in statements to the media, after TEPCO, the operator of the plants, reported on the incidents.
TEPCO has indicated that the fire alarm went off at the Daiichi reactor without any fire having been registered in these nuclear facilities and has added that it is checking the levels of water used to cool the four reactors damaged by the 2011 earthquake and tsunami .
The problem in the used fuel cooling systems was due to power outages caused by the earthquake and affected Daini units 1 and 3, although it was resolved after power was restored about two hours after the earthquake, according to TEPCO.