What to do in case of a major earthquake in the Tokai region

By Kowaka Junichi, Japan Offspring Fund

Japan Offspring Fund (JOF) Monthly Newsletter
June 2005, No. 194

Of all the 52 active nuclear reactors in Japan experts agree that the 5 reactors in Hamaoka are the most dangerous. Hamaoka sits directly over a subduction zone near the junction of two tectonic plates. The ground is not solid rock, but sand. This area is in fact overdue for a major earthquake.


When the radioactivity is released, it will be much worse than if an atomic bomb was dropped in the region.

At Japan Offspring Fund, we are concerned with safety issues, and we would like to provide advice about what you can do to escape, when such earthquake happens.

Check the local weather!

As for radioactivity, winds usually blow from the West towards the East, so if you live in the Kansai (Kyoto/Osaka) region, you will probably not be directly affected. The islands of Kyushu and Shikoku will most likely also be safe from radioactive fallout. On the other hand, Japan often experiences high atmospheric pressure coming in from the Pacific Ocean in the form of typhoons. In such case, any area of Japan could be affected. Checking the local weather reports will thus be of utmost importance.

Judging from data collected after the Chernobyl accident 20 years ago, between 10 and 30 million people may have to be evacuated in case of a major earthquake that destroys the Hamaoka reactors. In our opinion, the key will be to escape as quickly as possible. Even a slight delay will mean that you and your family will inevitably get caught up in horrendous traffic jams.

There is no doubt that the entire country will be affected. When the news speaks of a “Tokai Region Earthquake”, we think the effect will be felt from Kobe to Sendai , as massive amounts of people try to get out of the Tokyo area.

Checklist for an emergency evacuation

1) Check local weather reports
2) Gather your family
3) Make sure you have enough money
4) Bring your Emergency Goods
5) Escape as quickly as possible

In case of an earthquake, the Japan Offspring Fund office in Tokyo will be temporarily closed.

For more details about what to do in case of a Tokai earthquake that damages the Hamaoka nuclear plants, please read the emergency information from Stop Hamaoka Network:


Nuclear Safety Data Alteration is Common

In a recent court case, a technician responsible for the safety designs at the Hamaoka nuclear power plants in Shizuoka prefecture explained why he altered safety data to conceal design flaws. “I had children and there was not enough time”, he said.

33 years ago he worked at Toshiba, which built the reactors for Chubu Electric Power Co. Today, he is 63 years old and lives in Tokyo . He has recently been prosecuted for falsifying and altering safety testing data related to earthquake tests.

The case revealed that when various vibrational tests were performed, data showed that the design could not withstand a major earthquake. Several attempts were made to strengthen the design, but tests still showed problems. In spite of this, the construction went ahead and the building, Hamaoka’s second reactor, was completed in 1971.

“The most dangerous nuclear power plant in Japan ”

Based on these tests, an additional three reactors were constructed, including Japan ‘s largest nuclear plant which generates 1.38 MW. A total of five nuclear reactors are now in the area, which experts say is “the most dangerous nuclear power plant in Japan ”.

During the April, 2005 court case, the retired technician described how test data was simply pulled out of a report, so that the construction could go ahead. Had the data been made public, there is no way that the reactor could have been built. Now, he accepts responsibility for what he did, and wants the Hamaoka reactors to be shut down. He also says there should be a third-party examination and investigation of the safety concerns.

The testimony from this retired technician should not go unnoticed.

The Hamaoka nuclear plants are not earthquake-proof

By Konagaya Minro, Stop Hamaoka Network

Chubu Electric Power Co. began operating the first Hamaoka nuclear power plant in March, 1976. Only five months later, in August 1976, earthquake experts announced the result of their detailed examination of the region. The experts found that the Tokai region earthquake is a reoccurring event, with the last major earthquake hitting the region about 159 years ago. They predicted that an 8.0 Magnitude earthquake is overdue for the region. This is 10 times more powerful than the earthquake that hit Kobe in 1995.

We are concerned that there are many illegal issues regarding the construction and operation of the Hamaoka reactors.

In August, 2004, cracks in the concrete at Hamaoka 4 were found. This was revealed after a whistle-blower told the truth about faulty inspections. In addition, in April 2005, local media has shown the testimony of a former technician responsible for the safety designs at the Hamaoka nuclear power plants in Shizuoka prefecture. In his testimony, he revealed how test data was manipulated and falsified when the first reactors were built.

Conflicting views about safety

A problem with the official earthquake predictions related to the Hamaoka reactors is that they do not take into consideration the reality of a major earthquake. For example, the “rolling” or horizontal earthquakes are usually not as severe as a “drop” or vertical earthquake. In fact, in the Kobe earthquake, even highways, that the Japanese government had claimed were safe, were destroyed due to the vertical drop.

Survival: how to manage when a big earthquake hits the Hamaoka nuclear plants

Japan Offspring Fund (JOF) Monthly Newsletter
August 2005, No.196

Japan Offspring Fund continues the investigation of nuclear safety. Experts consider that a so-called Tokai megaseism occurs once in 150 years. The last big Tokai earthquake in the Shizuoka region occurred 151 years ago. Thus, a major disaster is already overdue. When the Hamaoka nuclear reactors collapse due to the Tokai megaseism, there will be a catastrophe. How can you prepare to protect lives and avoid the terrible effects of nuclear radiation?

The five Hamaoka nuclear reactors were built in Shizuoka prefecture, central Japan , near Omaezaki, a coastal town on the Izu peninsula. Uranium is used as fuel. The amount of uranium at this location is the equivalent of 5000 Hiroshima atomic bombs. In an earthquake, large amounts of radioactive particles will be released into the air. Even if only one reactor should collapse, the effect would be catastrophic. Should several or all five Hamaoka reactors be destroyed, the disaster could be much worse than Chernobyl .

Radioactive clouds

The Chubu Electric Power Co., Ltd insists that their Hamaoka reactors are 100% safe. In our opinion, the effects of an earthquake can never be predicted, so their assessment cannot be trusted. The Tokai megaseism could be up to 60 times as powerful as the 2004 Niigata earthquake. It is almost impossible to estimate where radioactive dust and debris, containing uranium, would fall as it depends on wind currents and wind speeds, as well as climate conditions. As radioactivity can stay in the atmosphere for long periods of time, it can fall anywhere and seriously pollute any spot on our rotating planet.

The key to avoiding the radioactivity is to not get it on your skin or into your body. Living cells will be attacked by the cancer-causing radioactivity. Therefore, Japan Offspring Fund recommends wearing a face mask to avoid breathing the radioactive air. In addition, it is crucial to stay out of rain in the aftermath of a Hamaoka nuclear disaster.

Lack of news

When a large earthquake strikes the Hamaoka nuclear reactors, there is no assurance that the public will find out what has happened. Media is usually quick to report about visible effects, such as delayed trains or shaking buildings. But the image of burning nuclear reactors may perhaps not immediately be shown on TV, as it would cause panic. The telephone communication with the region could also be broken, so there would be no way of knowing what has happened.

Transportation would be paralyzed due to the Tokai megaseism, making it virtually impossible to escape. Getting stuck in the middle of a traffic jam is also a scenario that everyone should consider. This is not the same as just an ordinary earthquake, or, for that matter, just an ordinary nuclear reactor accident. In JOF’s newsletter 127 we discussed the difficulties related to a big earthquake affecting the Hamaoka reactors, and especially the risks to people living in Tokyo . We warned that since the Kanto region, including Tokyo , may very well be downwind from the Shizuoka region, a large number of people will all want to escape at once. However, people living in Shizuoka are particularly at risk. In addition to the difficulties of escaping by road, it should also be considered that electricity and water services may be interrupted.

Use a mask

An ordinary cotton face mask is not sufficient to prevent radioactive particles to enter the lungs. Soaking such masks in water makes them a lot more effective, but not to the extent that they would be 100% safe. The best ordinary masks have passed a DS2 level in the national official approval rating system. Such masks cut out more than 95% of dust particles the size of 0.1 microns. For the people living in Shizuoka this would still not be sufficient, so we recommend masks that have passed a DS3 level, cutting out 99.99% of dust particles the size of 0.1 microns. Thinking ahead is important. Make sure to have such masks ready, at home and in your office, as they will be very difficult to buy once the disaster has happened.

Using DS3 level face masks, almost no radioactivity can enter the lungs. There are no DS3 level masks available for children, so we recommend using a DS2 level mask with additional gauze inside. Take care in advance to make sure that your child is breathing comfortably while wearing such mask. DS3 level masks are more expensive, but last considerably longer than DS2 level masks. Also, make sure you stay indoors. Sealing off the doors and windows of the house with duct tape as much as possible is also a good idea. Cleaning and wiping inside the house is also an important way to avoid radioactivity. Use a disposable dust cloth or a towel. Put the cloth in a plastic bag after cleaning, and throw away outside of the house.

Spread the word

Most people do not know about the Hamaoka nuclear reactors, and have not understood the risks associated with a Tokai megaseism. You should consider yourself a leader in your community, with the responsibility of explaining to others how they can protect themselves. Buying masks for yourself and your family should be a priority. Make sure your dearest ones understand how to use the mask. Discuss this issue with neighbours and colleagues as well. In this way, more people will also become aware of the problem of the nuclear reactors in Hamaoka. Even if you do not consider yourself an “activist”, buying face masks shows that you are serious about this problem and others will also start to demand that these five nuclear reactors are shut down. We recommend the 3M mask.

Emergency goods for earthquake and nuclear safety

The following items should be stocked as emergency goods:

Seaweed (tororo kelp): decreases the intake of radioactive iodine which causes thyroid cancer – eat large quantities
Duct tape and aluminum foil: use to seal windows and doors to avoid radioactive particles to enter

Face masks (One DS3 mask will last 24 hours. DS2 masks last 12 hours or less)
Shoe covers
Polyester gloves
Head protection (including hair cover)
Band aid
Plastic bags
Garbage bags

General emergency goods

Water and food
Emergency medical supplies
Sport shoes
Bank cards
Postal savings book