5.3-Magnitude Earthquake near FukushimaBy: Courtney Wills - September 19, 2013
An earthquake that registered as a 5.3-magnitude on the Richter scale was detected at 17:25 GMT today, according to a statement made by the United States Geological Service (USGS). Currently the ‘USGS’ and organizations like the ‘Japan Meteorological Society’ and the analysts at ‘The Weather Channel’ aren’t in complete agreement as to the size of the quake – both of which currently assert that they detected it as a 5.8-magnitude. Regardless of this minor qualm, the incident in itself caused quite a scare. The quake was within a close enough range that it’s effects were once again experienced by the Fukushima Prefecture – the region that is home to the recently devastated Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.
The areas primarily affected by the tremors were said to have only been in the constrains of the ‘Intensity II’ category as described in the Modified Mercalli Intensity Scale. Intensity II describes areas which the tremors were only felt by a limited number of people who were currently at rest, as well as some movement in the upper floors of buildings and skyscrapers. The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology, more concisely known as Phivolcs estimated that the epicenter was about 84 kilometers Southeast of General Santos City (Philippines). The group initially cited the coordinates of the epicenter to be 05.45 degrees North latitude and 125.54 degrees East longitude.
After the March 2011 earthquake and subsequent tsunami, the Fukushima Daiichi plant was rendered virtually unusable – as well as being extremely dangerous. In the aftermath of the two natural disasters, Fukushima had three of it’s reactors meltdown and extensive damages were caused to one of the primary fuel cooling pools. Fortunately, the Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) had been advised only days before by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to ensure all six reactors were completely shutdown (including the two that weren’t damaged last year). The Prime Minister also encouraged the plant to concentrate their full attention and capabilities toward solving the clean-up and disposal issues associated with the radioactive water leak caused by the disasters that happened in 2011. In pictures of the facility we can see several large barrel shaped tanks that are currently holding the contaminated waste that has already been collected in efforts made by associates of the plant.
During the time the tremors began to effect the Fukushima Prefecture, operations at the plant were being heavily monitored and has thus far not reported any incidents. Seismic activity within the Prefecture registered at a depth of around 13 miles (22 km.). Throughout the history of Japan, the people have been continually plagued by large and often disastrous earthquakes in the majority of the country’s various regions. Japan is the closest country to the vicinity at which four primary tectonic plates are all almost adjacent: the North American plate, the Pacific plate, the Eurasian plate, and the Philippine Sea Plate – the constantly floating plates cause the location to be an extremely seismically active region.