Fukushima quake provides lessons for Oregon

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PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — A massive earthquake near Fukushima, Japan triggered tsunami warnings and brought back a flood of memories from the disaster that hit in 2011.

Less than a week ago, another devastating quake rocked New Zealand, leveling structures and causing landslides.

In Monday’s earthquake, Japan issued and then canceled a tsunami warning. Later, the Japan Meteorological Agency said the earthquake that struck Tuesday was an aftershock of massive 2011 quake.

“Always when an earthquake happens, it’s like a laboratory,” said Dr. Mehmet Inan, a professor of civil engineering at the University of Portland.

Inan, who has been studying earthquakes for 3 decades, said Japan has built its infrastructure according to the data they’ve learned from past quakes. Recent changes to building design have helped them withstand the quakes, but roads, bridges and older buildings are still at risk.

The professor told KOIN 6 News he’d like to see tougher codes and more cooperation with builders and agencies.

“The companies and also the government officials maybe working together to look at codes, if they need to be improved,” he said.

The city of Portland is also considering having property owners reinforce their own buildings. But, as apartment building owner Steve Rose said, “The costs are astronomical.”

But Carmen Merlo with the Portland Bureau of Emergency Management said it’s a critical issue. “We’re really talking about life safety here.”

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