Japan shifts 2m away
The massive earthquake that devastated northeastern Japan has shifted the country more than 2m away from the neighboring Korean Peninsula, the Korea Astronomy and Space Science Institute said yesterday. The Korean Peninsula moved east up to 5cm, while Japan shifted about 2.4m east, it said. The disputed Dokdo islands, also claimed by Japan, where they are known as Takeshima, relocated furthest, moving 5cm east, as the islands in the Sea of Japan (East Sea) are relatively closer to the epicenter. The southwestern port of Mokpo drifted 1.21cm.
Japan warned of crisis
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) warned Japan two years ago that a strong earthquake could pose a “serious problem” for its nuclear power stations, the Daily Telegraph reported on Tuesday. An IAEA expert expressed concern that the Japanese reactors were only designed to withstand magnitude 7.0 tremors, according to a December 2008 US diplomatic cable obtained by the WikiLeaks Website, the newspaper said. The IAEA official told a meeting of the G8’s Nuclear Safety and Security Group in Tokyo in 2008 that Japan’s safety guidelines were outdated, the cable said. “He [the IAEA official] explained that safety guides for seismic safety have only been revised three times in the last 35 years,” it said, adding that “the presenter noted recent earthquakes in some cases have exceeded the design basis for some nuclear plants.”
Iodide tablets out of stock
The main US manufacturer of potassium iodide tablets has run out of stock after a massive demand generated by the Japanese nuclear crisis, the company’s head said on Wednesday. Anbex was flooded with thousands of orders for its Iosat drug after Friday’s earthquake and tsunami in northeastern Japan. “The spike is enormous ... we were out of stock by Friday night,” Anbex president Alan Morris said. “The demand mostly is coming from the west coast of the US, but there are a significant number of inquiries, requests, orders coming from Japan, Korea, all over the Far East.” Morris said manufacturers hoped to have new stocks of the drug — which protects against radiation leak — ready to ship in about two weeks’ time.
Road rage disrupts hearing
A parliamentary hearing called to discuss the worsening nuclear crisis in Japan was suspended in uproar on Wednesday — in a spat over a parked car. As ministers outlined France’s response to what the government has called a potential disaster on the scale of Chernobyl, independent MP Maxime Gremetz stormed into a committee room to complain his car was blocked. “That’s enough! This is unworthy,” science committee chairman Claude Birraux protested, amid shouts from MPs enraged by the timing of the interruption. After disrupting the hearing on live television for a second time, Gremetz was ordered to get the car registration number. “With Japanese people risking their lives today, don’t come here and be a pain in the neck with your story about badly parked cars,” Birraux said before suspending the session. Immigration Minister Eric Besson said he was sure the offending vehicle did not belong to him or Environment Minister Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet. “If it was either of our cars, I am sure the chauffeurs would be sitting in the front,” he told the committee.