Tsunami escape steps promoted while Asian nuclear reactors reported at risk for Tsunami

Dave Masko's picture

NEWPORT, Ore. – It’s always nice to get a freebie, but being handed one of the new “How to Escape a Tsunami” cards is a bit distressing, says one Newport local; while the nearby National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) "Marine Operations Center Pacific in Newport" monitors the ongoing threat of Tsunami’s via its NOAA Tsunami Preparedness web site that, along with Oregon Emergency Management, keeps locals abreast of the latest earthquake and Tsunami threats.

One such threat, reported by the AP and other international media on April 19, is other Asian nuclear reactors that number “at least 32 in southern China are in areas that could be hit by a Tsunami like the one that struck Japan’s Fukushima Dai-ichi plant.” The AP also noted one of the world’s biggest nuclear plants is “slowly taking shape along China’s southeastern coast” and downwind from America’s West coast are “like Japan’s Fukushima Dai-ichi plant” because they lie with a few hundred miles of “the type of fault known to unleash the largest Tsunami-spawning earthquakes.”

Oregon and other West coast locals being made ready for next Tsunami

There’s been a recent deluge of Tsunami warning information being handed out to locals in Oregon and others West coast communities. This past Palm Sunday weekend, for example, volunteers handed out the new easy wallet size, 3x3 inch “How to Escape a Tsunami” care that warns: “If you feel an earthquake, a Tsunami may follow.”

"This card is a wake-up call for us that the Tsunami threat is not over. In fact, we're living on the edge of a dime right now with this over our heads. Yea, the card gives instruction on what to do, but there's no real warning that a Tsunami is upon us. Even the Tsunami horns only blast warnings within 15 minutes or so when the wave will hit," says one Newport local with a sense of chagrin at living in a time of Tsunami.

The card, that been recently issued in the wake of last month’s Tsunami from Japan’s massive 8.9 earthquake, is produced by the National Tsunami Hazard Mitigation Program for Oregon, Washington, California, Alaska and Hawaii. The program is being run by NOAA, FEMA and the U.S. Coast Guard to “prepare West coast residents for the next Tsunami.”

The handy card, that officials are asking locals to carry or place by their phone in case another Tsunami hits the West coast, features three quick actions to take when a Tsunami hits:

-- Drop, cover and hold during the earthquake.

-- Move inland and uphill quickly, or use local evacuation route.

-- Wait for official all clear before returning to the beach.

In addition to the new and handy “How to Escape a Tsunami” card, there’s also numerous booklets produced by Oregon Emergency Management and FEMA.

One Tsunami booklet, dubbed “Living on Shaky Ground,” explains in detail how to “survive earthquakes and Tsunamis” in Oregon and along the West coast.

Moreover, there’s plenty of new Tsunami signs posted up and down the Oregon and West coast areas where Tsunami’s can cause “real damage and loss of life.”

In addition, there’s “The Seven Steps for Earthquake and Tsunami.” This handy one page list of seven steps to take when a Tsunami hits, also includes an area to list one’s “important information,” such as out-of-area contacts, neighborhood meeting places, doctor’s phone numbers and account information and home insurance details.

Oregon geology experts say it’s not if, but when the next Tsunami will hit the West coast

Given lessons learned from last month’s Tsunami scare – when massive waves slammed West coast communities – there’s regular intelligence on new Tsunami threats.

For example, the April 19th report by the AP and other international media, point to something called “subduction zones” that happen when on tectonic plate is lodged beneath another.

Also, the AP reported that “the so-called Manila Trench hasn’t been the source of a huge quake in at least 440 years, but some experts say tremendous stresses are building, increasing the chances of a major rupture. Should that happen, the four plants in southern China, and a fifth perched on Taiwan’s southern tip, could be in the path of a towering wave like the one that stuck Fukushima.”

“We have to assume they’ll be hit,” said David Yuen, a University of Minnesota professor who has modeled seismic probabilities for the fault, as reported by the AP.

In the meantime, it’s noted that China, Taiwan, India and several other countries are building coastal nuclear reactor facilities that the AP reports “along subduction faults crisscrossing the globe.”

“When you’re talking about radioactivity and possibilities of explosions… you have to look at what is within the realm of possibility,” said Jody Bourgeois, a Tsunami expert at the University of Washington who was doing research in Japan when the recent quake and Tsunami hit.

The AP reported Bourgeois’ findings by also noting her views about new Asian nuclear reactors that are at risk for Tsunami damage.

“You should be building it with factors of safety for the maximum possible events,” Bourgeois said.

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