Bushehr Earthquake – Fear in the Gulf
I missed my first earthquake!
I happened to be at home when the Bushehr earthquake rattled the Gulf coast at 3pm local time yesterday. The local media reported severe shaking in large buildings over several parts of Bahrain, including the Salmaniya Medical Centre. Yet I felt nothing, despite being no more than a couple of miles from some of the affected areas. Earthquakes are no laughing matter, yet I feel a sneaking disappointment at not experiencing one at close hand, yet not too close. Perhaps I should be careful about what I wish for.
Whether I felt nothing because there are several districts built on reclaimed land – and I don’t live in one – is an open question. It goes to show that earthquake science is still full of unknowns.
That Bushehr is in the vicinity of three major fault lines is well known, however. So is the fact that Iran’s only working nuclear power station is located in the region. I wrote about the risk of locating a nuclear reactor in an earthquake zone two years ago in the wake of the Fukushima disaster. See Concerns About Bushehr – Too Close for Comfort.
Since earthquakes often come in clusters (witness the recent successive quakes in Christchurch, New Zealand, and the major events following the 2004 Indian Ocean quake and tsunami), perhaps those of us living within a few hundred kilometres of the reactor have reason to feel a little nervous right now. Would it be too much to hope that the Iranians might shut the reactor down, at least for the next few months, as a precautionary measure? Probably.
But fear is one thing, and reality is another. Let’s not forget that people were killed yesterday in Iran, and many more lost their homes. Our sympathy should go to those affected before any other considerations.