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Published On: Sat, Dec 27th, 2014

Probability of major Earthquake and Nuclear Disaster in Japan “extreme”

Christof Lehmann (nsnbc) : The Japanese government’s Headquarters for Earthquake Research Promotion issued a geographical forecast for major earthquakes. The report reveals that the probability for the occurrence of major, devastating earthquakes in some of Japan’s most densely populated regions over the coming 30 years is 26 % or higher. Some of Japan’s nuclear power plants are located in the zones with the highest earthquake and tsunami risk. 

The report estimates earthquake probability throughout Japan and plots the geographical forecast in a color-coded map to indicate earthquake risks.

Japan_Earthquake risk_Dec 2014_mapThe map shows that no region in Japan is exempt from the probability of a major seismic event but most disturbingly, some of Japan’s nuclear power plants are located in the zones with the highest risk for an earthquake that causes major structural damage, and along Japan’s eastern coast.

The latter fact significantly increases the risk of a major tsunami and a repetition of the still ongoing disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant (NPP).

The red zones (see map) forecast a 26 percent or above probability for a major seismic event, measuring 6 or higher on Japan’s earthquake scale that has a magnitude 7 as maximum, over the coming 30 years.

Japan_Earthquake risk_Dec 2014_map_legendJapanese experts warn that there is no room for delaying necessary measures, including the improvement of methodologies for the forecast of earthquakes, earthquake and tsunami-proofing measures, as well as safety measures with regard to Japan’s nuclear power plants.

The risk for an above magnitude 6 earthquake in Japan’s second largest city Yokohama with over 3.6 million residents over the coming 30 years is estimated to be as high as 78 percent.

Risk in the city of Chiba is estimated at 73 percent and the risk for the cities of Mito and Kochi is as high as 70 percent.

The risk for a major, destructive earthquake in the capital Tokyo is estimated to be 46 percent. In other words, there is an almost 50 – 50 percent chance that the capital will experience a major, destructive earthquake within the next 30 years.

The tank farm keeps growing as water decontamination equipment continues to fail and highly contaminated water keeps leaking into the Pacific.

The tank farm keeps growing as water decontamination equipment continues to fail and highly contaminated water keeps leaking into the Pacific.

Another disturbing fact is that the crippled Fukushima Daiichi NPP is in an isolated zone with an above 26 percent probability.

The facility has been leaking highly radioactive contaminated water into the Pacific Ocean since the earthquake and subsequent tsunami devastated the power plant and led to multiple reactor meltdowns in 2011.

The NPP’s operator, TEPCO, has stored millions of cubic meters of radioactive contaminated water in tanks. Rather than using safer (and more expensive) welded tanks, TEPCO continued adding more flange tanks held together by already corroding steal bolts and with rubber-sealing between the flanges.

The tanks are connected with “swimming-pool-grade” plastic pipes. Experts repeatedly warned that the tanks couldn’t withstand a major earthquake. There is a high probability that a major seismic event would cause the rupture of tanks and pipes, leading to devastating environmental consequences for the already stressed Pacific Ocean environment and catastrophic consequences for Japan.


Click on the map to enlarge and view in full size. OECD, Dec. 2014.

Other NPPs which are located in the “red zone” include the Sendai NPP with two reactors, the Ikata NPP with three reactors, the Hamaoka NPP with three reactors, of which two are being decommissioned.

The location of the NPPs and their current status has been plotted and is regularly updated by the OECD’s Nuclear Energy Agency.

It is noteworthy that the fact that a nuclear power plant isn’t currently operating does not mean that the facility is safe.

Among major concerns are, spent fuel tanks which could rupture, causing hydrogen gas explosions, open air fission processes and under certain circumstances a nuclear explosion.

Kagoshima power plant: is floating solar the future? Kyocera

Kagoshima power plant: is floating solar the future? Kyocera

During Japan’s snap election campaign in December 2014, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and the Liberal Democratic Party pushed a platform for the restart and expansion of Japan’s nuclear power plants.

Japanese researchers in renewable, non-nuclear energy promote the construction of floating solar energy plants and a change of Japan’s environmental laws so as to allow for the construction of “earthquake proof” dams for the generation of hydroelectric energy.

The prototype Kagoshima, floating solar energy plant is already operational. The Abe administration, however, has done little to promote solar and other renewable energy, say spokespersons for the industries and the anti-nuclear power movement in Japan.

CH/L – nsnbc 27.12.2014

About the Author

- Dr. Christof Lehmann is the founder and editor of nsnbc. He is a psychologist and former independent political consultant on conflict, conflict resolution and a wide range of other political issues. In March 2013 he established nsnbc as a daily, independent, international on-line newspaper. He can be contacted at nsnbc international at

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