A cluster of earth quakes in Kumamoto/Oita

A number of big earthquakes have been hitting Kumamoto and Oita, the middle part of Kyushyu, for the past 2 days. So far, 37 people were killed while more than 1,000 were injured. They say 70,000 have been evacuated. This event has reminded me of my experience with the big earthquake 5 years ago when we had to spend a few days without any life line. I know they are in much tougher situation. Imagining what anxiety and pain they have right now, from the bottom of my heart, I hope it would be calmed down soon.

Kumamoto is isolated in a sense since logistics transportation is blocked due to the damages on roads, railways, airports and so forth. The long lasting hit seems also to annoy the people there. It may take them pretty long time to recover from this disaster. But I believe they will do.

The seismologists say those earthquakes have occured on two different active faults there. Since 3 tectonic plates are colliding with each other in our country, there are so many active faults, which have caused big earthquakes at certain interval. The active faults already found are counted up to 2,000. There should be even more not found yet. The earthquakes occurring at present seem to be along the Median Tectonic Line, which traverses the Eastern Japan from south west to north east. The great Hanshin earthquake in Kobe and adjascent areas in 1995 may be regarded also along this tectonic line and should be regarded as a series of crustal movements. It is just my impression. Anyway, we should be aware our country or even earth itself is in the era of crustal activity now.

Eathquake is a hard experience but hits only once. But it is not the case with nuclear power plant accidents. We have learned that from the tragedy in Fukushima 5 years ago. It is still going on now. Along the Median Tectonic Line, east of the area hit by the present earthquakes, there is a nuclear power plant named Ikata in Shikoku island. There could be another big earthquake occurring around the Ikata nuclear power plant. If it happens, a serious grave scenario will start there.

As told above, there are so many active faults running all around our country that the other nuclear power plants, 54 in total, could be damaged by big earthquakes or tsunamis. There is a small gulf named Wakasa Wan north of Kyoto, only tens of miles in distance from that crowded area of Kansai. That gulf has 14 nuclear power plants in a radius of 20 miles or less. If they should be hit by the natural disaster and fall in serious accident, Kansai area is totally disabled. It means our country won't be able to go on as it would now.

Is it a too pessimistic scenario? Since we have experienced the accident in Fukushima, I could never believe so. We should learn from that experience. Nuclear power plant accidents won't be transient but last almost endlessly.



  1. Shin - with so many active faults and earthquake activity in Japan it seems that it's not a matter of 'if' but more a matter of 'when' one will again disrupt another nuclear power plant. Nuclear makes no sense for Japan but are there many alternatives?

    Steve VE7SL

    1. Steve,

      Thanks for the considerate comment. Yes, it is a matter of "when". Learning about the active faults running all around, I was quite sure of that. They show the probability of earthquake caused by each fault even though it has a range of span. And it seems we are getting into the age of activated crustal move for now, so that we should prepare for that. If an earth quake of this size and extent occurs in such as Tokyo, we might have very difficult time.

      When it hits some nuclear power plant, another catastrophe will follow as written in the post.

      We could do without the nuclear power generation for some time. It is a false story that nuclear power is clean and less expensive than the other methods of power generation. Including the social expense and the cost to decommission them, they are never cheap but even costly. In the case of serious accident, it will cost astronomically.

      It is not only a problem of power generation but a problem of energy production. We should start regional energy production like biomass generation and so forth. Every natural resources should be used.

      Why won't the government and the business circles steer toward that way? They must know of the issues with nuclear power generation but won't be free from the profit it produces right at present.

      The problem of used nucear fuel is getting more and more serious now. No place to store or to dispose of. It is another reason why we should stop and give it up. It is a serious "heritage" to the next generation lasting centuries of time. It should be avoided as well.