Press Release

Director of Photon Factory reports the damages of the recent earthquake and its recovery prospects

28 Apr 2011

We would like to express our sincere sympathy to people who have been affected by and suffer from the catastrophic earthquake which hit the northeastern Japan on Friday March 11th, and the subsequent crisis in the nuclear power plants in Fukushima. We would also like to convey our gratitude to Photon Factory users and colleagues for sending us the warm words and support in this very challenging time.

Fortunately nobody was injured by the devastating earthquake since the user operation had finished on the morning of March 11. However, the damages of the facility are not negligible and it will need certain period of time to restart the user program.

Here we briefly report the damages that were noticed after the visual inspection, and the present situation of the Photon Factory.

Linac : Some of the RF cavities have moved by as much as 10 cm in the beam direction. Several vacuum bellows were broken, hence disturbing the vacuum sections (Photo 1). One of the triplet Q-magnets was inclined and fell down (Photo 2). Many control cabinets, tool boxes etc., tipped over, and other instruments dropped out of their normal positions. Accumulation of groundwater was observed on the underground floor of the linac building, including the slow positron facility.

PF 2.5GeV ring : A bellows at the downstream of the gate valve of one RF section was broken, causing the vacuum to leak a half of the storage ring (photo 3). Although the vacuum of the cavities remained intact, the bellows between the cavities were deformed by the shock. In addition, differences in the floor levels at some joints of the buildings along the transport line were observed. Finally, several control cabinets tipped over, and many equipment such as displays fell down.

PF beamlines : Some control cabinets and vacuum chambers tipped over (Photo 4). A large diffractometer derailed from its positioning rail, while another fell down. Although some vacuum gauges and pumps didn't function well, most of the vacuum gauges, pumps and interlock systems worked well. We expect that the damages of beamlines are not so serious as we estimated. We have been carrying out the check of interlock systems, the vacuum and the control systems of beamlines since the end of March.

PF-AR ring and beamlines : A difference in the floor levels at the junction of the buildings appeared, causing stress to bellows in the storage ring. Lead and concrete blocks between the experimental hall and the ring were displaced as well. A more detailed evaluation of the eventual damages and performance tests will be required for a complete understanding of the extent of the damages and establishing restoration procedures.

Our first priority is to restore the facility and reopen the laboratory. Our recovery plans must take into account the critical shortage of electrical power in Japan. We continue investigating the status of accelerators and beamlines and plan to restart a test operation in May, and we are hoping to be able to accept general users in this fall at the latest. In the meantime, thanks to countless warm and thoughtful offers of allocating precious beam time by lightsource facilities across the world, we are consulting with users who wish to obtain beam time kindly offered by the other facilities before we reopen the laboratory.

We would be grateful for your continued understanding and cooperation.

Soichi Wakatsuki, Director, Photon Factory

[ Media Contact ]
  Youhei Morita,
  Head of Public Relations Office, KEK
  tel. +81-29-879-6047


Photo 1

Broken bellows (Linac)


Photo 2

Dropped triplet Q-magnet (Linac)


Photo 3

Broken bellows (PF-Ring)


Photo 4

Toppled vacuum chamber (PF-BL16)