Thursday, February 21, 2013

Hilarity of the Day: Kochi Prefecture to Build Underground Shelter... Against Tsunami...

According to a Kochi resident (and nuclear scientist) whom I follow on Twitter, Kochi has been known to build absolutely worthless systems like some IT system incompatible with any system outside the prefecture that ended up as a costly, outdated LAN not even used inside Kochi Prefecture.

Kochi Prefecture, and particularly Muroto City, where this so-called shelter will be built, is regularly hit hard by typhoons. Kochi Prefecture is located in Shikoku, and is facing the Pacific Ocean.

This is plain idiocy, and therefore it will be generously funded by the national government as the Kochi governor is requesting. Just like so-called decontamination project, just like so-called wide-area disposal of disaster debris.

From Kyodo News (2/14/2013):

崖のシェルターに逃げろ 高知県、津波対策で建設へ

Run to the shelter in the cliff - Kochi Prefecture to construct shelters for tsunami


Kochi Prefecture is expected to be hit with a tsunami from Nankai Trough Quake as high as 34 meters (112 feet). The prefectural government decided on the plan on February 14 build the first tsunami shelter in a cliff on the coast of Muroto City.


The candidate location is in Tsuro District of Sakihama-cho in Muroto City in the eastern Kochi. The houses are buuit close to the ocean, and the cliff is right behind the houses. There is no appropriate place to build a "shelter tower".


The prefectural government will submit 60 million yen (about US$644,000) in the fiscal 2013 budget plan for design and geological survey.


A tunnel with the diameter of 3 meters will be dug into the cliff in the district. The entrance to the tunnel will have double-door that will stop the sea water. In the back, a vertical shaft will be dug, so that the evacuees are able to escape to the mountain top several tens of meters higher.

Here's the visual:

According to the Kochi resident above, there was no vertical shaft in the original plan. He suspects that was added as an excuse after the initial idea was ridiculed. The Kochi government thinks elderly residents (over 40% of this particular district) can climb up a spiral staircase for the height of a 10-story building.

Nikkei Shinbun gushes that this shelter and many others like this along the steep coastline of Kochi Prefecture will each protect 100 residents for 24 hours. The tower is expected to cost 200 million yen (US$2.1 million)

24 hours? One day? Don't they know that a help didn't come to many of the disaster affected areas after March 11, 2011? It took days. In many locations, it never came. Nankai Trough Quake is estimated to be Magnitude 9.1. And they think sheltering residents for 24 hours is enough.

So what are other obvious problems?

  • They think they can close the double door and the tsunami won't come in. Fine. Why do they think it can open again? Tsunami debris anyone?

  • Why do they assume the vertical shaft would remain intact after a mega earthquake like the one they are anticipating? For that matter, why do they assume the cliff will survive the quake and tsunami?

  • Water-tight means air-tight. Any plans for oxygen tanks?


  • Who is going to close the double door, when, no doubt, there are still people trying to get in?

More than anything, the human instinct when a tsunami is coming is to run to the higher ground. That's the only thing that worked in March 11, 2011 tsunami. There were stories of farmers and fishermen in their 80s who ran so fast that they were amazed at themselves. Instead, the Kochi government wants the residents to go underground, to a location practically on the sea level.

It is not just human instinct. When the 2004 Sumatra–Andaman earthquake hit, animals headed uphill. Humans who followed the animals survived the tsunami.

The idiotic governor who came up with this brilliant idea is Mr. Masanao Ozaki, another Tokyo university graduate and former career bureaucrat from the central government, from the Finance Ministry. A 45-year-old punk who won the second term of governorship in November 2011 because there was no other candidate. Well, the above Kochi resident says Kochi people deserve what they will get, for having selected this guy by default.


Anonymous said...

More total idiocy from the land of idiots called Japan... its pork barrel politics also..

Anonymous said...

Sounds human.

Anonymous said...

in a land of babies, a 5 year old is King !

Anonymous said...

Take a good look at the tunnel..picture 112 foot high wave..and its pressure hitting the mouth of the shelter..picture the water acting like a firehose in the tunnel..picture all the people being shot out of the other end of the tunnel..after a fast water ride/trip up the stairs..TADA! An express system of evacuation (psss..has any one tested what happens to humans in this kind of situation?)!!!

Anonymous said...

"[...]will have double-door that will stop the sea water."

Kind of like how the double doors of the sea wall kept the water out? Yoshihama wall. anyone?

Ivan said...

Incredible feat of engineering, no? Deserves some type of recognition comparable to Nobel Prize in particular category.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, I think there already exists an award comparable to the Nobel Prize for this brilliant idea. It's called the Darwin Award.

Anonymous said...

I guess just building a bunch of staircases up the outside of the cliff would be too boring.

Anonymous said...

Wouldn't it just be cheaper to drown everybody before the next tsunami?

Anonymous said...

Not quite, it would probably be cheapest to let the tsunami drown everybody.

Anonymous said...

CORRECTION: Not quite, it would probably be cheapest to let the tsunami drown everybody...sans the horizontal-vertical tunnel of doom.

arevamirpal::laprimavera said...

They are not looking for "cheap solution". They are looking for "expensive non-solution" so that the Japan's largest general contractors can dig up the hillsides all over coastal Japan on cushy government contracts.

Anonymous said...

I think we got that Areva. Just having a little fun. Yakuza must make their money.

Anonymous said...

Why not keep going horizontally until they hit China?

Anonymous said...

What if the earthquake causes a landslide to bury both ends of tunnel either before or after it is filled with people? Hmmm...we need multiple exits, hence more construction.

Anonymous said...

Is this for real? I know the Japanese are lithe and used to small cramped spaces but Heaven help them if someone faints midway up the stairs or the 86 year old in front of you just had his legs give out. Should have saved this for an April 1st post.

Anonymous said...

Too right about human instinct -- no one will want to run into a tunnel after an earthquake, & tsunami warning! DEFINITELY no one will want the responsibility of closing the door.

They should MAKE an "appropriate place" to put the steel tower. Seems like they don't want to interfere with the scenic coastal view

arevamirpal::laprimavera said...

Scenic coastal view? Probably not. Don't know about this particular place, but there's hardly anything natural left in Japan's coasts and rivers. Everything is concrete, or concrete blocks, or breakwater (which didn't work at all in the March 11, 2011 tsunami).

Anonymous said...

I say if Ozaki approves this then he must be the last one and close the doors. Let's see if he thinks it's worth the money then.

arevamirpal::laprimavera said...

Anon above, this is apparently Mr. Ozaki's idea, detailed out by a graduate student at Kochi University of Technology.

Anonymous said...

Yes, but is he willing to be the last and close the doors? I bet that was not in his idea.

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