September 29, 2011,10:37 +0900(JST) Disaster Preparedness Day
Sumitomo Electric held Group-wide disaster drills at each site on September 1 for Disaster Preparedness Day. We conducted training on evacuation, confirmation of employee safety, information communication and secondary disaster prevention, to verify the adequacy of the initial responses stipulated in our business continuity plan. The event was transmitted by video-conference to each site.
In light of the extent of the damage caused by the tsunami that was triggered by the Great Tohoku Earthquake, local governments in tsunami-prone areas in Japan are re-examining their predictions of the height and possible damage of tsunami. Here in Osaka Prefecture, the height of the tsunami assumed to follow Tonankai (literally Southeast Sea) and Nankai (literally South Sea) earthquakes if they occur in succession is 1.5 to 3 meters. If the Tokai (literally East Sea), Tonankai and Nankai earthquakes occurred in conjunction, some predict that the largest possible tsunami would be six meters high, flooding huge areas, including the central Osaka City.
Sumitomo Electric suffered enormous damage from the Makurazaki Typhoon of 1945 and Typhoon Jane of 1950. While reinforced tidal embankments and other countermeasures have helped reduce damage to coastal areas of Osaka in recent years, these anti-flooding measures seem far from perfect. However, there are limits to what we can do as a company in terms of physical protection measures against tsunami disaster, measures that will involve great expenditures of cost and time. At Sumitomo Electric, we are working to improve our disaster preparedness by reviewing our Business Continuity Plan and by ensuring, on a routine basis, that hazardous areas and evacuation procedures are fully understood by employees, and that evacuation drills are carried out at each work site.
Another major issue in disaster preparedness is to secure backup power, so as to cope with possible interruptions of electric power, gas and other important infrastructure services essential to production. Since the Great Tohoku Earthquake, Sumitomo Electric has increased the number of backup power systems in its facilities in eastern Japan. Over the coming months and years, we will consider where to install such systems, on the basis of the Group’s production and supply structure.
Regarding the crisis at the nuclear power plant, facility aging and the inadequate emergency manual have been pointed out. Coping with aging facilities is also an important task for Sumitomo Electric, a company boasting a long history. Over the last several years, we have carried out seismic reinforcement of our buildings, according to a plan. We will step up our efforts to ensure the seismic safety not only of our buildings, but also of our equipment and facilities.
On this Disaster Preparedness Day, I feel strongly that, by drawing lessons from the earthquake and tsunami disaster that claimed many lives, each and every one of us should think about what we can do and promptly start doing whatever we can.