A massive earthquake off the coast of Japan has caused a fuel leak in a nuclear power plant, it has been reported.
The 7.3 quake near Fukushima on Saturday evening local time injured dozens and resulted in widespread power outages.
The Japan Meteorological Agency said the quake was 60 km deep and arrived just after 11 p.m. (2 p.m. GMT).
At least two dozen people were injured, according to the Kyodo News Agency.
It does not appear to have caused any major damage, and officials have not issued a tsunami warning.
Most worrying, however, are reports of a leak at the Fukushima Daini nuclear power plant, according to public broadcaster NHK – although this has been denied by the plant owners.
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Pool water used to store spent fuel may have leaked and contaminated the area.
However, according to reports, the risk to workers and the environment is low as the exposure to radiation is not an extreme risk.
TEPCO According to reports, a facility patrol in Unit 1 found about 160 ml of pool water for the storage of spent fuel “in a ditch near the pool in preparation for decommissioning in Fukushima Prefecture”.
“It appears that it overflowed due to 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 there is none.” Concern about worker exposure. “
The report went on to say that as of 1:40 p.m. local time, “No major anomalies were detected at the Fukushima Daini nuclear power plant, and the values of the monitoring posts that measure radiation levels around the nuclear plant have not changed.”
A Reuters cameraman in Fukushima said his hotel room on the 10th floor was shaking for some time and a man in the hotel was taken to the hospital and banged his head on a door.
Although the man was injured, he could still walk, added the cameraman.
TV footage also showed broken glass on the storefronts.
Around 950,000 households were initially without electricity, said government spokesman Katsunobu Kato in a briefing about NHK.
The blackouts appeared to be concentrated in northeastern Japan, including Fukushima and neighboring prefectures.
Despite reports, Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings, which owns Fukushima Daiichi and Daini nuclear power plants, did not report any irregularities.
The utility also said there was no change in radiation levels around its facilities.
Mr. Kato said there were no irregularities in the Onagawa nuclear facility.
“In terms of damage, losses and structural damage are assessed,” he said, adding that parts of the bullet train have been suspended due to power outages.
“Surveys are being conducted at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant,” he said.
“We have received reports that the Onagawa Nuclear Power Plant and the Fukushima Daichi Nuclear Power Plant are not abnormal,” he added.
Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga was called into his office and NHK said the government would set up a special liaison office to coordinate with the affected regions.
“We will continue to respond and put human lives first,” Suga told reporters early Sunday, adding that there were no reports of serious injuries.
The quake occurred a few weeks before the 10th anniversary of a March 11, 2011 quake in Fukushima that devastated northeastern Japan.
It sparked a massive tsunami that led to the world’s worst nuclear crisis in a quarter of a century – one that centered on the Daiichi plant.
Earthquakes are common in Japan, one of the most seismically active areas in the world.
The country is responsible for about 20 percent of magnitude 6 or greater earthquakes worldwide.