March 11, 2011 — Utilities and power generators in the U.S. along the West Coast are bracing for the possibility of disasters stemming from the 8.9 magnitude earthquake that struck Japan.
The states of Hawaii, Alaska, Oregon, Washington and California are preparing as a tsunami kicked off by the massive quake is expected to reach across the Pacific Ocean and into the coastline of the continental U.S.
The first signs of the tsunami hit Hawaiian shores, as waves seen on local television footage rose steadily over the southern beaches on the island of Oahu.
Evacuations were ordered in Hawaii and tsunami warnings have been issued across the Pacific basin, particularly Northern California and Oregon.
The U.S. government said shorelines appear to be out of major danger from the tsunami, caused by the large quake that killed hundreds in Japan, but that there is still some risk to the U.S. West Coast.
Nuclear power plant operator PG&E Corp. said it declared an unusual event at its Diablo Canyon power plant in California due to the tsunami warning, which is normal operating procedure at the California but both reactors there were operating normally.
Southern California Edison, a unit of Edison International, said workers would be monitoring “unusual small waves” that were likely to hit the coast.
In Japan, four nuclear power plants have closed. President Barack Obama held a news conference in which he said that there have been no reports thus far of any radiation leakage from the Japanese power plants.
However rising pressure in a reactor operated by Tokyo Electric Power Co. has reportedly elevated the risk of a radiation leak.