Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Order turning to disorder in Japan: Chaos erupts as rolling power outages begin

Tokyo Electric Power Co. started cutting electricity to some areas Monday evening in an unprecedented effort to sustain power in the capital after Friday's Tohoku megaquake crippled a key nuclear power facility.

The emergency plan, announced late Sunday, threw commuters into confusion. Many arrived at train stations early only to find that the scheduled morning and afternoon outages had been canceled. The railroads, however, had already reduced service in anticipation, creating huge commuter logjams.

The rolling blackouts started at 5 p.m. in parts of what Tepco calls Group 5 — a wide area covering Chiba, Ibaraki, Yamanashi, Shizuoka and five other prefectures — and lasted until 7 p.m., covering a critical period when power consumption peaks.

The zone also includes some 330,000 households in a number of municipalities in the Kanto region, including Yokohama and Kawasaki. (read more)