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SACRAMENTO, CA - Sacramento resident Genevieve Shiroma was aboard a bus in Tokyo when the devastating earthquake struck Japan on Friday. "It went on for what seemed an eternity," Shiroma said Monday during an interview on News10 Good Morning.
"I really thought, 'Is this is?' The bus kept rocking and rocking. I knew it was a big earthquake," Shiroma said.
Shiroma was more than 200 miles away from the area hardest hit by the quake, but she could see its force as she watched trees and the awnings of nearby buildings shaking violently. And she could feel it. "The bus wobbled back and forth, really rocking back and forth for a very, very long time," Shiroma said.
Shiroma missed her flight from Tokyo because the roads were clogged and traffic was at a standstill. She arrived back in Sacramento Sunday evening.
Shiroma, who is a board member with the Sacramento Municipal Utility District, said Japan has some of the finest technology when it comes to earthquake preparedness. But she said with the 8.9-magnitude quake and the hundreds of aftershocks, Japan's nuclear power plants proved vulnerable.
As of Monday morning, there are fears of a third potential explosion at a nuclear power plant in northeast Japan. Officials said the fuel rods in one reactor were fully exposed after it lost its ability to cool down and as a result, could trigger another explosion.
Shiroma said SMUD still has responsibility for the decommissioned Rancho Seco nuclear power plant in southern Sacramento County. While the plant has been dismantled, more than 400 spent fuel rods are still in place at the site. They remain highly radioactive.
Shiroma said the rods are encased in metal and concrete inside a bunker and remain under 24-hour security.
So what could happen in the event a major earthquake in California?
Shiroma said the rods are held in canisters of "the highest strength metal and materials," and she expects they would hold up and continue to protect us from radiation. But she said the rest of California's infrastructure, such as roads, bridges, power plants and water supply, would likely be severely damaged.