A magnitude 6.0 earthquake rocked Japan's coastline Friday, threatening an already volatile area and recalling the disaster of 2011, in which at least 16,000 people died.
Friday's temblor struck at about 4 a.m. EDT near the Japan Trench, about 200 miles away from the Fukushima nuclear disaster site, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.
The most recent quake did not trigger a tsunami, and no injuries nor damaged buildings were immediately reported Friday. But all eyes remained on the sensitive Fukushima region, which is still recovering from the damage caused by the previous disaster.
After that 9.0 magnitude quake, all 11 of the nearby reactors shut off, but the resultant tsunami waves knocked out backup power and prevented three of the oldest units—located at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant—from being able to cool off.
Pressure built up, and workers were forced to let out gases, triggering explosions, according to BBC News. The reactors' cores melted down, more than 160,000 people were evacuated, and the Fukushima crisis ultimately became the second-worst nuclear accident in history.
Despite Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's September statement that the plant is now "under control," the disaster is still not over. Authorities had to pump tons of water into the plant to try to lower temperatures, and they now face the challenge of dealing with the contaminated water. This week, more than six years since the disaster, scientists found radioactive cesium in sand and water as far as 60 miles away.
"Over 9 million cubic meters of nuclear waste are scattered over at least 113,000 locations across Fukushima prefecture," Kendra Ulrich of Greenpeace Japan said in a 2016 news release. "The Abe government is perpetuating a myth that five years after the start of the nuclear accident the situation is returning to normal. The evidence exposes this as political rhetoric, not scientific fact."
Earthquakes like Friday's not only scare residents who fear another tsunami but also affect Fukushima cleanup efforts, which are projected to last for the next four decades, according to The Guardian.
Earthquakes are not rare in the region, given Japan's location on the seismically active Pacific Ring of Fire. The nation experiences about 100,000 tremors every year; roughly 1,500 are strong enough to be detected by residents without the need for machinery.
Friday's earthquake near Fukushima followed a 6.1 magnitude tremor off the coast on September 20.
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