A magnitude-6.1 earthquake shook an already beleaguered Japan on Tuesday, just as radiation levels at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant fell from their harmful levels following a series of explosions and a fire. There were no immediate casualties reported after the quake. The epicenter of the latest quake was located in Shizuoka prefecture, approximately 180km southwest of Tokyo, and shook many of the capital’s high-rise buildings. Shizuoka’s Chubu Electric Hamaoka Nuclear Power Plant reported no immediate problems and is operating normally.
At the Daiichi plant in Fukushima, ocean winds are blowing radiation away from the plant and over the Pacific. But the situation remains tense after several explosions released radioactive material into the area. Following the explosions, radiation doses of 400 millisierverts per hour were recorded (1,000 millisierverts causes temporary radiation sickness). Later, the reading dropped to 0.6 millisierverts per hour. The International Atomic Energy Agency has criticized the Japanese government and Tokyo Electric Power Co for a lack of transparency and communication as technicians struggle to prevent a meltdown. “The communication needs to be strengthened,” said the IAEA’s Yukiya Amano. “I have asked the Japanese counterparts to further strengthen and facilitate their communication.”