|ADA Gallery in Niigata|
As you've probably heard, a massive earthquake and tsunami hit the northeastern coast of Japan on March 11th, 2011. Since then, a group of brave workers at the Fukushima nuclear power plant have been battling explosions and radiation leaks in an attempt to bring the crippled plant under control.
Although it may seem a world away from most of us, these events may have a very real impact on our aquascaping hobby. Many companies that make aquarium supplies are based in Japan, with Aqua Design Amano and Hikari probably being the most well known. ADA is headquartered in Niigata (about 100 miles from the worst devastation in Sendai) while most of Hikari's facilities are in southern Japan.
Everyone at ADA headquarters, which is closer to the affected area than Hikari, is alright. The gallery there sustained little damage if any, with all tanks surviving the earthquake. Apparently, ADA stands and tanks are designed to withstand earthquakes. However, as you can see in the map above, the ADA gallery and headquarters (marked A) isn't all that far from the Fukushima nuclear plant that's been leaking radiation for the last two weeks. Since ADA's substrate product, Aqua Soil, is collected nearby, there has been some concern over radiation levels in the product. ADA was quick to release a statement stating that radiation levels are being monitored:
Our national and local government is monitoring the radiation level every hour, and we do not see any abnormal value of radiation reported from the area of collection. In addition to that, we are not collecting these soils every day, and we now have been processing the soils collected before the earthquake. The raw materials of our AQUA SOIL series are collected from a layer of earth in the ground, and we do not see any concern of having soils contaminated with radiation. Therefore, there is no effect of radiation in all AQUA SOIL SERIES and it remains as ideal substrate for aquarium use.
Even if radiation isn't an issue, the general destruction of highways and ports and other infrastructure, along with the power outages could delay some shipments of ADA products to the US. If you were planning on making any necessary ADA purchases in the near future, and the products are in stock, I'd go ahead and make them now just in case. As a show of support for ADA and the Japanese people, ADG Shop is offering a special deal on Aqua Soil with 10% of proceeds going to the Japanese Red Cross. Keep in mind though that this is a pre-order and that the Aqua Soil is not in stock right now, so if you are in a rush to set up a tank, you may want to contact the folks at ADG to see when they expect their next shipment. The ADA Gallery in Niigata has also opened up their gallery seven days a week until further notice to help provide a relaxing escape from the destruction.
The International Aquatic Plant Layout Contest (IAPLC) run by ADA has not been impacted or delayed though, so continue working on your submissions!
Meanwhile, Hikari has most facilities in southern Japan, but will probably also be impacted by damaged infrastructure and power shortages. There hasn't been a lot of mention about the quake on the Hikari USA website, but their Facebook and Twitter feeds have posted a video of a koi farm during the earthquake and offered their condolences to those impacted. Again, if you depend on Hikari products (say a special fish food for example) you may want to get it now just in case there are any interruptions in availability.
One thing you probably don't need to do and shouldn't do is go on a panicked buying spree. ADA and Hikari products are going to continue to be available, there just might be some short delays. I'll update this post if I hear anything else back on product availability or delays from Japan.