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Tsunami advisory in northern Japan after 7.1 magnitude earthquake off coast (cir.ca)
97 points by teawithcarl on Oct 25, 2013 | hide | past | web | favorite | 56 comments

"A U.S. Pacific tsunami warning center said there was no destructive widespread tsunami threat following the quake."


"It was 6.2 miles deep, officials said, and hit at 3:10 a.m. Saturday local time and was felt 300 miles away in Tokyo.

The Japan Meteorological Agency issued a "yellow" warning Saturday morning, meaning a small tsunami could reach the coast at Fukushima, site of the 2011 nuclear power plant disaster.

There were no immediate reports of damage from the temblor, which Japanese authorities classified as a magnitude 6.8, Reuters reported. No irregularities were reported at the Fukushima nuclear plant.

A yellow warning is issued when a tsunami is not expected to exceed three feet, significantly smaller than the tsunami that hit the energy plant in March 2011. Residents in the coastal region of Fukushima Prefecture were being advised to move to higher ground.

No warning for the rest of the Pacific was posted by the U.S. Tsunami Warning Center after the quake."


I got an email about this quake over an hour ago - here is the USGS link if anyone else is interested in setting up similar notifications[1]. You can set up customized magnitude ranges for customized parts of the globe, it's a pretty neat little service. Rule of thumb for context is 7.0+ happen about once a month and 8.0+ happen about once a year... I have it email me about every 7+ on the globe and I think every 3+ within a decent range of my city.


Isn't the USGS planning to discontinue this service shortly?

I helped build the Earthquake Notification Service a few years ago when I was at the USGS. I'd be disappointed if they shut it down...

I didn't help build it, and I too, would be disappointed.

It's probably using the same service, but IFTTT has recipes for earthquake notifications.

Can someone help me interpret the data?

Circa has pretty a decent synopsis: http://cir.ca/news/fukushima-earthquake-october-2013

Magnitude 6.8, felt as ~mag 4 on the mainland.

I just arrived in Tokyo last night. Every time I come to Japan there's a major quake within 24 hours. Last time Fukushima, this time this.

seems a little rude for you to keep visiting then..

The oarfish warned us, but did we listen?

I knew all those beaching oarfish meant something.

In the morning?

It is interesting that before Fukushima the common knowledge was that any amount of radiation is bad and may cause health issues. We can see how after the Fukushima this morphed into a little radiation may actually mobilize your immune system to protect the body from radiation-related illnesses like cancer.

Another thing is this - and I'm a right wing pig here if you'd like to call me that - USSR as bad as it was it took responsibility for the Charnobyl catastrophe. There was Army and the Government involvement on all levels to clear it up from day 0. In Japan years after the incident the Government is still finger pointing some CEO trying to operate that facility. I hate that because this is precisely one of these things that gives capitalism very bad name. And what is the Japanese Government there for? To come up with lies about how radiation is good for you now? How pathetic!

> and I'm a right wing pig here if you'd like to call me that

I have far worse things in mind.

> USSR as bad as it was it took responsibility for the Charnobyl catastrophe.

The most horrific aspect of how it was handled was that they didn't tell anyone. They desperately tried to keep it quiet. They didn't even tell the people doing the emergency work what they were actually doing, many of whom sacrificed their own lives without knowing anything.

You could have had evacuations, people simply getting out of the way themselves, but no, there was silence. Only when it was clear that they couldn't keep things under wraps, did they own up to it. By that point, it was too late.

I was five at the time, living in Kiev. I remember being in kindergarten and I remember they rounded everybody up and told us they were going to take us away, an evacuation. But then they cancelled it. Nobody knew what was happening or why. Eventually my mom came home early, but she didn't know what was happening, only that something was happening. It was days before we found out and moved to stay with our relatives further north.

Wikipedia seems to support my memory of the event.

"The general population of the Soviet Union was first informed of the disaster on 28 April, two days after the explosion, with a 20 second announcement in the TV news program Vremya."


I'll take the Western approach to things. Capitalism and all. I don't care who's to blame or who goes to jail. I want to know so that I can protect myself.

”[The] USSR as bad as it was took responsibility for the Chernobyl catastrophe. There was Army and Government involvement on all levels to clear it up from day 0.”

Just so HN readers know… this ^ quote is total bullshit.

--[TL;DR Response]-- The USSR did not take responsibility or implement good clean up from day 0; at all. They lied/covered up as much as they could, for as long as they could, endangering their own land, people, and economy. Chernobyl is historically regarded as a propaganda clusterfuck and a major economic, civic, and political failure of modern history.

--[Full Response]-- I could argue a number of this guy’s points, but the specific claim that the USSR excelled at “taking responsibility” and implementing an institutional clean up/response “from day 0”, is the polar opposite of all existing historical and scientific fact.

The historical fact here is that the USSR’s response to Chernobyl was horribly botched, heavily manipulated by propaganda, and that the public was extremely uninformed of the context, causes, and consequences (both immediate and future), of the disaster.

The response was swift, yes, but dangerous, uninformed, and unorganized. Even the military/emergency crews and government employees/engineers first sent in to respond to the disaster, were lied to about the specifics and risks of the incident. For civilians in the USSR, there was a total information black out for the first 2 days. Most citizens gleaned only limited facts/information, days and weeks later, largely via rumor or from international media. Effective institutional response (from inside the USSR) and more accurate reporting only arrived after much international pressure and media attention. The major civilian backlash at the falsehoods and failures of Chernobyl, and the extreme financial expense of the disaster, was one of the final blows in exposing and crippling the Gorbachev regime.

[Source: I'm an environmental historian and science teacher]

> USSR as bad as it was it took responsibility for the Charnobyl catastrophe. There was Army and the Government involvement on all levels to clear it up from day 0. In Japan years after the incident the Government is still finger pointing some CEO trying to operate that facility.

To expand on this point, if Fukushima were Chernobyl and Japan the USSR, the Sarcophagus would have been completed on October 27th, of 2011. Two years ago.

(By no means is that structure a fine piece of engineering, but considering the constraints I find it hard to fault them for that.)

If Fukushima were Chernobyl, it would have needed a sarcophagus. However, it was already designed with containment that worked, and as a result, a sarcophagus wouldn't have changed anything. In fact, building a large concrete structure over the reactor core would probably have complicated cleanup efforts by limiting access.

In effect, Fukushima already had a sarcophagus integrated into the structure of the building in 1971, 6 years before Chernobyl even started running.

Absolutely; hence "if Fukushima were Chernobyl".

I don't mean to suggest that Japan should build a sarcophagus; I only mean to give an idea of the sort of timescale for significant engineering tasks that the Soviets were working with. They slammed it into high gear pretty rapidly.

The constraints of Fukushima and Chernobyl are vastly different. First of all, in Chernobyl the surrounding infrastructure was not destroyed. Second, they had an open reactor in Chernobyl, so it was immediately clear that they need to build a sarcophagus. By contrast in Fukushima the biggest problem is water management. And especially the management of contaminated ground water, while it is not clear that a sarcophagus would solve much, since the containment is apparently somewhat intact.

So while I think that Tepco did make horrible mistakes, I am actually not sure that the response was less than optimal. Largely because the USSR did commit similar mistakes in Chernobyl, for example not registering the liquidators.

My point is that the Government should be the one trying to resolve that issue. Not Tepco. My claim is we would be all better off if a state could throw in its resources to help with the Disaster after effects. They seem just to sit there and blame Tepco instead of doing their job.

Just a little curios do you know how many people died to put initial Sarcophagus in place? Official Soviet count is 31: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deaths_due_to_the_Chernobyl_dis... . Amount of people Soviet's threw in action is so enormous that it is silly to think that Japan could have matched anything like that. Especially with more immediate concerns of people not having food and shelter after Tsunami.

> It is interesting that before Fukushima the common knowledge was that any amount of radiation is bad and may cause health issues

Well, the common knowledge is wrong. We are surrounded with background radiation every day.


Since I have the tab open at the moment:

    This natural background radiation is not harmless, as the effects 
    of high exposure to cosmic background radiation (e.g. by frequent 
    trans atlantic flights) or high radon levels in homes or local soil
    on cancer incidence have shown. [85, 86, 87, 88] It can be assumed 
    that a certain proportion of the 'naturally' occurring cases of cancer
    are caused by constant exposure to 'natural' background radiation
Source: IPPNW commentary on the UNSCEAR report on Fukushima, http://www.ippnw.de/commonFiles/pdfs/Atomenergie/Ausfuehrlic...

We can talk about radiation all day, but I guess the larger point is:

"There have been no acute radiation syndrome fatalities reported due to the Fukushima accident, while approximately 18,500 people died due to the earthquake and tsunami. Future cancer deaths from accumulated radiation exposures in the population living near Fukushima are predicted to be extremely low to none."


So why are we talking about the radiation here? The effect is meaningless in comparison. Why aren't we talking about what to do about tsunamis?

Well, first of all radiation is a entirely man made disaster, unlike a tsunami. And additionally I think that your wikipedia quote is a nice example, first no acute radiation syndrome fatalities is a nice statement, it is also true for the entire WWI. The thing is, that acute radiation poisoning only happens at really high doses, long after everybody should start running away. This is simply not a concern for an area where anybody is living.

Future cancer deaths from accumulated radiation exposures [...] are predicted to be extremely low to none. Yes, but I find the paragraph in the source [1]

    Even the worse case scenario — a dose of 50 mSv — poses a fairly minimal risk. 
    However, the models showed that infants living in Namie could have got a higher
    dose to their thyroid, of 100–200 mSv. That higher dose would be due mainly to 
    radioactive iodine-131 blowing from the plant immediately after the accident. Brenner 
    says a dose of 200 mSv to a female infant under a year old might mean a 1% risk of 
    developing thyroid cancer over her lifetime (by comparison, the lifetime risk in the 
    United States is 0.02%).
So if you then look into the WHO report which triggered the nature blog post [2], and especially appendix D, you will find that there was quite a lot of necessary smoothing of the data, for example, the difference between the average contamination of seafood and the maximum sample is a order of magnitude. And it is actually quite easy to construct a scenario, where consumption of a specific Tuna is a death sentence.

So I think that a argument can be made for nuclear energy, but this argument should not be "no one will ever know we killed her. <evil laughter>" The argument should include sentences like [3]:

    [...] My offers were such as to give me a risk equivalent to that faced by an American soldier
    in World War II, according to my calculations of plutonium toxicity which followed all generally 
    accepted procedures. These offers were made to all three major TV networks, requesting a few 
    minutes to explain why I was doing it. I feel that I am engaged in a battle for my country's 
    future, and hence should be willing to take as much risk as other soldiers.

[1] http://blogs.nature.com/news/2012/05/world-health-organizati... [2] http://apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/10665/44877/1/97892415036... [3] http://www.phyast.pitt.edu/~blc/book/chapter13.html

> Well, first of all radiation is a entirely man made disaster, unlike a tsunami.

Tsunamis are not much of a disaster without man building and living along the coast where tsunamis may strike. The circumstances of the disaster are just as much man made as the radiation.

I like those scare quotes around 'natural'.

Not all quotes are scare quotes. Often times, they are used where one would normally add slight differentiation, such as italics.

No, no, no. Don't give me that now. How came 100mSv/h used to be horrible and is just good for your health. Explain that.

Did you know that we, collectively, as a society, continue to gather new information and make new discoveries even to this day?

Just timing is politically too convenient to do it now: http://www.activistpost.com/2013/04/obama-approves-epas-high...

I've not seen any effect on the radiation debate from Fukushima. The people saying that small amounts of radiation are harmless or even beneficial were saying that long before Fukushima. The people who were saying any radiation is bad are still saying it.

What I'm getting from that is that the Japanese are saying "Our Japanese radiation is different, and this small amount won't harm you".

Do you have an example of this that's in any way different what nuclear power advocates have been saying for decades?

Could it because of the way Chernobyl was handled? The USSR lost a lot of people cleaning up that mess.

They lost about 300 first responders and exposed at least 100,000 reservists to very dangerous levels of radiation in the cleanup operation. Some of the video and stories of the cleanup are quite crazy.

Source: I visited Chernobyl and Pripyat in April.

Do you think that these 300 saved lives of others because of what they did? Do you think it was necessary at that point just to - I'm sorry for putting it that way - sacrifice them ?

> Do you think that these 300 saved lives of others because of what they did?

No, I think it was overall a waste of human life. The situation could have been handled far better by putting out the fires immediately -- those were spewing toxic, radioactive smoke into the air. After that, however, instead of attempting a coverup, the first priority should have been evacuation. Once people were out of harm's way, there would be time for planning a safe, careful cleanup effort.

Because of the poor design, which lacked of secondary containment, some deaths in the initial firefighting might have been unavoidable, but the death toll was unnecessarily high, all for the sake of saving face and hoping that things could be covered up.

Also, Pripyat Hospital #1 was entirely oblivious to the fact that injured firemen brought to them were highly radioactive - to the point that even a shred of their uniforms is very dangerous even today.

Our guide pointed out a piece that some idiot had brought up from the highly irradiated basement.

How exactly do you "put out" a molten reactor core?

It wasn't a molten reactor core that was being put out, but burning graphite control rods. The molten reactor core wasn't good, but it was a relatively local problem compared to the smoke from the burning rods escaping into the atmosphere and getting carried by the winds.

The fires kept burning for days and days in the melted-down reactor - most who died had no idea how dangerous the whole situation was.

The cleanup operation wasn't much better - men cleaning nearby reactor roofs in 45 second shifts and heavy lead aprons because the radiation was too bad for a fleet of robots to function.

This comment has nothing to do with the article and the debate below has been rehashed many, many times. Let's not bring it up on every news vaguely related to Japan.

You have to raise the safety limit so contaminated food can be sold and exported.

japan still denies the atrocities of ww2 against american POWs, china, phillipines, etc, etc. in fact they kind of just gloss over the whole war. compare them to germany and the contrast is stark.

japan is not a cute fuzzy pet culture limited to anime and sushi. it's an insular island culture that's just as bad as anyone else in history. it's too bad it takes a full-blown nuclear disaster for people to realize this.

Wow... it's definitely not a perfect place, but it's also not the horror show you make it out to be.

More than the far right that wants to paint Japan's past in a rosier light, the problem with Japan's government is Japan's culture: They don't want to do anything without consensus from everyone, which pretty much never happens period. This is a big reason for their stagnation.

You should also be looking at the atrocity angle from a global perspective: Right now apologies and compensation are being demanded all around not because they haven't already been given (they have) or because they were insufficient (they were accepted) but because China, South Korea, and Japan all hate each other at the moment and are bickering like children, in no small part due to all three being in a nasty phase of nationalism and using territorial disputes to antagonize one another.

It's easy to denigrate just about any government, and right now current events are making it laughably simple, but that doesn't mean every accusation you hear on the news is true or even provided in context.

jeez, i don't know who is worse: apologists for japan, or apologists for china.

the hilarious thing is the aforementioned two groups are vehemently anti-each-other.

GUESS WHAT. east asian interests don't align with your western ones.

> japan still denies the atrocities of ww2 against american POWs, china, phillipines, etc, etc.

Uhhh, no: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_war_apology_statements_...

Stop listening to Chinese and Korean (both North and South) propaganda.

notice how they never acknowledge anything specific? just round-about statements that were probably issued to satisfy the requirements of trade agreements and treaties.

i know it's tough seeing your favorite pet country in this light. but it's the truth.

> I hate that because this is precisely one of these things that gives capitalism very bad name.

I don't see how this has anything to do with capitalism. I just can't read it that way no matter how I look at it. I've worked extensively with Japanese companies. It's a cultural and political problem. Nothing else.

Fukushima happened because of a natural disaster, 9.0 earthquake and a tsunami. Chernobyl happened because of poor engineering.

Neither of those causes is so clear-cut. It's not as if tsunamis are unexpected on the Japanese coast, and reactor designs that rely on active safety systems are inherently worrying. Chernobyl was undoubtedly a horrible design, but my understanding was that the proximate cause was human error/idiocy in disbelieving their monitoring systems.

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