Last August, in a hilarious example of bad timing, Japan restarted its first nuclear reactor since the Chernobyl redux at Fukushima just as a nearby volcano was set to erupt.
Sakurajima, one of the country’s most active volcanos, erupts almost constantly, but experts warned the next eruption could be “the big one”, so to speak.
At the time, The Japan Meteorological Agency raised the warning level from 3 to 4.
4 means "prepare to evacuate."
"The possibility for a large-scale eruption has become extremely high for Sakurajima," the Agency said. As for what fate would befall someone who failed to heed an evacuation warning, well let’s just say that molten stones "could rain down on areas near the mountain's base."
As we noted, the real problem is Sakurajima’s location - it’s just 50 kilometers from the Sendai nuclear power plant.
On Friday Sakurajima erupted at 7 p.m. local time.
"The Meteorological Agency banned entry to the area, expanding an existing no-go zone around the crater to a 2-kilometer (1.2-mile) radius," AP reports, adding that "Friday's eruption, while dramatic, was average compared to Sakurajima's past eruptions" including the last incident in September.
Here are the visuals.
?????????????? pic.twitter.com/DBkQX9uS1T— ???????? (@nhk_seikatsu) February 5, 2016
For now no injuries have been reported and there's apparently no threat to Sendai which RT reminds us is only "built to withstand a tsunami of 15 meters, well below 2011’s peak tsunami height of 40 meters."
Kyoto University volcanologist Kazuhiro Ishihara says everything should be fine, but "of course we must keep monitoring the volcanic activity."
Yes, "of course" we should. Because as we documented last year, Sendai's operators and local authorities have no comprehensive plan to evacuate residents in the event of a meltdown. We close with a quote from Yoshitaka Mukohara, a representative of a group who opposed the Sendai restart:
“There are schools and hospitals near the plant, but no one has told us how children and the elderly would be evacuated.
“Naturally there will be gridlock caused by the sheer number of vehicles, landslides, and damaged roads and bridges.”