The Japan Meteorological Agency said that a moderately strong magnitude 5.8 earthquake hit northern Japan early Friday morning. The center was detected in Fukushima Prefecture, around 50 kilometers from the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant but no damage has been reported by Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO), the plant’s utility operator.
The earthquake struck at around 2:25am on Friday and was recorded on an upper 5 on Japan’s seven-point scale that is used to measure its potential impact in specific areas. It was felt all over the northern Japan and even rattled Tokyo which is around 175 kilometers to the south. This magnitude can actually cause damage to unprotected buildings but as of this morning, there has been no reports of any damage in the region. There was also no danger of potential tsunami waves in the aftermath of the earthquake.
TEPCO assured the public that there was no obvious damage to the nuclear plant or to any of the water storage tanks that houses tons of radioactive water. But it was a clear reminder that despite being not operational, the facility is at risk whenever even a moderately strong earthquake occurs. Fukushima was the site of a nuclear meltdown during the Great East Japan Earthquake of 2011 and is considered to be the worst nuclear accident since Chernobyl. Just 12 hours before, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe visited the plant and ordered TEPCO to decommission the two surviving nuclear reactors as well.
[ via Wall Street Journal ]