Fukushima Earthquake: 7.3 earthquake strikes near site of Fukushima nuclear disaster

A magnitude 7.3 earthquake struck Saturday off the coast of Japan’s Fukushima prefecture, near the epicentre of a 2011 earthquake which caused the world’s worst nuclear disasters.

The Japan Meteorological Agency said the quake — which it initially said had a magnitude of 7.1 — struck at 11:08 p.m. local time (9:08 a.m. ET) at a depth of 34 miles.

The large quake could actually be an aftershock of the deadly 9.0-magnitude earthquake that hit off the same area in 2011, Japan’s Meteorological Agency said.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato told reporters that evaluations were under way, including of the region’s nuclear plants.

“Casualties and structural damage are being assessed,” he told a press conference, but added that parts of the high-speed bullet train network had been suspended because of power outages.

The Japan Meteorological Agency said fourteen aftershocks have been recorded, adding that a tsunami warning had not been issued. The quake was also felt in Japan’s capital, Tokyo. “There have been no anomalies reported from any of the nuclear facilities,” Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga told a press conference. “Everything is normal.”

Checks were still being carried out to determine the number injured, he said, urging people not to venture outdoors and to be prepared for aftershocks. Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato told a separate news conference earlier in Tokyo that almost 850,000 households had been left without power in areas surrounding Tokyo and northern Japan.

Possible Nuclear Leak?

According to NHK, there has been a leak of nuclear fuel at the damaged plant which is in the Fukushima Prefecture. Pool water used for storing spent nuclear fuel may have escaped and again contaminated the surrounding area.

The company that runs and owns the plant, TEPCO said: “A patrol found that about 160 ml of pool water for storing spent nuclear fuel at Fukushima Daini Nuclear Power Plant Unit 1 in preparation for decommissioning in Fukushima Prefecture had leaked into a ditch next to the pool. It seems that it overflowed due to the shaking of the earthquake, but according to the Nuclear Regulatory Agency, the amount is small, so there is no effect on the cooling of nuclear fuel, and the radiation dose is low, so as yet there is no concern about exposure to workers.”

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