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Top seismologist: Quakes bigger than 7.5 magnitude, unlikely

Gheorghe Marmureanu, nuclear activities control body give assurances that Cernavoda atomic plant will not be damaged in a major tremor.

The Vrancea seismic area cannot trigger an earthquake measuring more then 7.5 degrees on the Richter scale and a major tremor, deep underground, could occur only after 2040, the head of the Earth Physics Institute, Gheorghe Marmureanu, said in a Pro TV show yesterday. From a seismological point of view, things are “quiet” in Romania at the moment and the tectonic movement triggered by the Japan 9 magnitude quake will not affect us, Marmureanu said. He underlined that he cannot tell for sure when the next quake will hit Romania and how big it will be, but analyses conducted based on what has happened until now indicate that a major underground tremor will follow, but not in the next 20-30 years.


Between 2040 and 2066 it is possible to have a major quake of 7.2 to 7.4 magnitude, Marmureanu thinks. When asked about building’s resistance to a big quake, he said that after the 1977 7.2 magnitude tremor, most buildings were designed so as to withstand quakes of up to 7.5 degrees on the Richter scale, while many constructions in Bucharest can actually resist to 8-9 degrees.


The seismologist also spoke about a warning system which should be expanded and be available to the media and to all citizens, who could get mobile phone alerts about an imminent quake 30-40 seconds beforehand.


Talking about the Japan quake and the Fukushima nuclear plant disaster it triggered, Marmureanu said it is virtually impossible for something similar to happen at Cernavoda. The specialist said he even called President Traian Basescu to allay concerns about the Cernavoda nuclear plant, underlining that he was personally involved in designing the plant’s seismic structures. “I know for sure that I did a good job at Cernavoda, but one can never offer guarantees. It was designed to withstand a 7.5 quake, the maximum magnitude in Romania,” he said.


A similar opinion was expressed by the former director of the National Commission for Control of Nuclear Activities (CNCAN), Lucian Biro. According to Nuclearelectrica, the Cernavoda plant was designed to resist 8-magnitude quakes and Biro insisted that even in case of such a strong tremor, the plant would not collapse, it would merely stop working.


Biro also talked about fears that the radioactive cloud from Fukushima could move to affect other areas, underlining that the level of radiations in Tokyo is not endangering people’s health and lives. The General Emergency Situations Inspectorate (IGSU) also said on Friday it’s unlikely that events occurring in Japan in the last few days will have any radiological consequences on Romania or its people and the environment. IGSU hosted on Friday a meeting of experts from several institutions with responsibilities in case of nuclear accidents: CNCAN, the ministries of In­te­rior, Health, the Environ­ment, Transport, Foreign Affairs, De­fence, the government’s Situa­tions Centre, the National Sanitary-Veterinary Authority, the Nuclear and Radioactive Waste Agency.

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