Pumice from Ogasawara Islands volcano appears on Taiwan’s north coast: nuclear power plants on guard

Volcanic pumice originating in the Ogasawara Islands of Japan has drifted to Taiwan’s north coast, and both maritime authorities and the Atomic Energy Council are taking precautions.

Eruptions in the Micronesian island group, which includes Iwo Jima, began on August 13, producing enormous drifts of the floating stones that began to clog ports in Okinawa and other parts of Japan last month.

See previous story: Volcanic activity, seismic shifts: WWII ships from Battle of Iwo Jima raised from watery graves

Smaller drifts of pumice first reached the eastern and southern coasts of Taiwan earlier in December.

The Keelung City government today, December 8, requested the Keelung District Fisheries Communication Station issue alerts to coastal shipping, including fishing boats, after pumice began to appear along the coast and in fishing ports in the area. The pumicestone is a potential hazard to boats that have seawater cooling systems.

pumice drifts at a fishing port in Keelung City
Pumice drifts at a fishing port in Keelung City. Picture: Keelung City Government.

The  Oceanic Affairs Council (OAC) and National Coast Guard Administration are monitoring the drifts in coordination with the National Airborne Service Corps and Marine Conservation Agency. So far, the pumice has been seen at Badouzi Fishing Port, Zhengbin Fishing Port, and Wanghaixiang Fishing Port.

Taiwan’s three nuclear power stations, two of which are located on the north coast, are also dependent on seawater intake for cooling. The Atomic Energy Council, and Taipower, the operator of the plants, are also monitoring and taking measures against the pumice drifts.

The AEC said that barriers had been set up around the seawater inlets of the Jinshan Nuclear Power Plant at Shimen, and Kuosheng Nuclear Power Plant at Wanli. The AEC said that operations will not be affected, and they will continue to monitor and take countermeasures.

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