Monday, March 14, 2011

Earthquake & Tsunami Aftermath On A Monday in Japan


Kimitsu-shi, Chiba-ken, Japan. - It's Monday, and a lot of people wonder if I need to get to work on this day after the disaster last Friday that killed more than a thousand people. Yes, I did get to work, everyone at site did, although I heard that there are offices in Tokyo that are closed today.

Today is Blackout day, a scheduled one. Due to the earthquake and tsunami that destroyed the nuclear plants in Fukushima, Japan is now suffering from power shortages. As such, people in Japan have to share the usage of electrical power and will each experience a three hours power outage. When I login to my Facebook account just now, I saw this message:
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"Japan Earthquake Information - Updated Mar 14, 8:05AM

Scheduled Blackout
There will be a scheduled blackout (power outage) starting the morning of 3/14 in Tokyo, Tochigi, Ibaraki, Gunma, Chiba, Kanagawa, Saitama, Yamanashi, and Shizuoka.
Areas will be divided into 5 groups and each group will experience about 3 hours of power outage.

Please refer to the TEPCO Homepage (as of now, the list is only provided in Japanese) to find out which group you are in and what time the power outage will occur in your group.

Train companies have announced that there will be irregular operation, including out of service hours. Summary here.

JR | Tokyo Metro | Toei Subway/Bus | Tokyu | Odakyu | Keio | Tobu | Keikyu | Keisei

Major out of services are: Tokaido Line (all day), Yokosuka Line (all day), Yokohama Line (all day), Odakyu will only operate between Kyodo to Shinjyuku (all day), Keio will only operate between Chofu and Shinjyuku (during morning and evening rush hours).

The Facebook website will not be affected by this blackout.

About this box: Facebook uses this box to provide information to foreigners and visitors in Japan for the duration of the current crisis."
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I am not sure if everyone gets this message or it is only for people who login through an IP address from Japan, but I think this is very useful at this difficult time in Japan. Kudos to Facebook!! If you think this information might be useful to your friends, just hit the Recommend button above or below this article to post it to your Facebook wall.

As described in my earlier posting about the earthquake on March 11, I am a field engineer who is currently working on an outage in a TEPCO thermal power plant in Chiba. When I get to site today and visited the TEPCO office, I was shocked to realize the absence of light in the office. It was dark and I thought the office must be under-going some electrical panel maintenance work until I was told that they are actually trying to reduce electrical power usage so that more people in other parts of Japan can have a share of the power. Only laptops and computers were powered in their office. Although I know that this measure will only reduce a minimum amount of energy consumption, these people have immediately won my utmost respect to them. I went back to our office and we started switching off our lights too.

Today is a busy day for most of us. The plant is undergoing an outage and will not be scheduled to startup for at least another month. However, due to the power shortage, people here have determined to work extra hours to get the unit back into service and pump in another 500 MegaWatts into the national grid. We know that this 500MW is essential and can save lives. The startup target date has now been brought forward, for at least a week and everyone is working hard to achieve that. People have been making phone calls all day to expedite the delivery of materials, mechanical engineers have been working extra hours to assemble the unit (I have not seen them in the site office since morning until 8pm just now except lunch time) and I have been doing preparation works for the coming startup. I have to say that this is the first time I felt important, that my work can actually save people from cold and hunger, and bring light into the darkness. I am proud to be in the team and unless there is absolute danger that threatens my life, I will stay here and get the unit started up.

After work today, while I was looking for dinner, I found that the entire shopping mall was in darkness. I believe it was closed earlier to conserve energy. On my way driving back to hotel, I somehow felt that the streets and surroundings were darker. When I reached the hotel, I am surprised to find that they too have switched off part of the hotel's lighting to conserve energy. Therefore, I have decided to join the party by switching on only one light bulb when I get into my room!!

Today also marked the second explosion that happened in another unit of Fukushima Nuclear Plant. I do hope the nuclear radiation can be contained and do us no harm, as described by the officials. Hope that the worst is over.

Update: There is an update from the Facebook notification box for Tuesday's Scheduled Blackout. It is as below:
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"Japan Earthquake Information - Updated Mar 15, 0:45AM

Scheduled Blackout
There may be scheduled blackout in Tokyo, Tochigi, Ibaraki, Gunma, Chiba, Kanagawa, Saitama, Yamanashi, and Shizuoka today.
Areas will be divided into 5 groups and each group may experience about 3 hours of power outage.

Please refer to the TEPCO Homepage (as of now, the list is only provided in Japanese) to find out which group you are in and what time the power outage will occur in your group.

The list has been updated in the last 24 hours. Please check the list for the latest groupings.

Train Operation Information
There will be limited train operation today. Please refer to below links for the latest information.

JR | Metro | Toei Tokyu | Odakyu | Keio | Tobu | Keikyu | Keisei | Seibu

The Facebook website will not be affected by this blackout."
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You can also access the article about my experience of the Earthquake on March 11 by clicking here.

Update2: Leaving Japan.


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