The major nuclear energy story in the wake of the earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan in March 2011 was the meltdown at Fukushima Daiichi. However, the International Atomic Energy Agency recently concluded that a Japanese nuclear plant even closer to the quakes epicenter the Onagawa plant, only 44 miles away was left relatively undamaged by the natural disasters.
The IAEA study included on-site inspections and extensive interviews.
Sujit Samaddar, the studys lead, said the difference was the Onagawa plants safety systems. While the plant was hard hit, it maintained its cooling capacity, its reactors shut down without damage to their cores and there were no signs of major damage to crucial safety systems, according to the Associated Press via The Washington Post.
In contrast, Fukushima experienced multiple meltdowns that released radiation into the environment.
With the earthquake of this magnitude, we would have expected the plant to have more damages, and that was not the case, Samaddar was quoted as saying about Onagawa. This indicated there were significant margins in the designs.
Read the story in The Washington Post