IAEA examines Japanese nuclear plant

Aug. 14, 2012 at 6:03 AM

TOKYO, Aug. 14 (UPI) -- A Japanese nuclear power plant closest to the epicenter of the magnitude-9 earthquake in 2011 escaped major physical damage, a delegation from the IAEA said.

The Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant experienced a meltdown following the March 2011 earthquake and resulting tsunami in Japan. The Onagawa nuclear power station, about 75 miles north of the Fukushima plant, was closest to the epicenter of the earthquake. A delegation from the International Atomic Energy Agency, however, said the plant escaped severe damage.

"The structural elements of the nuclear power station were remarkably undamaged given the magnitude of ground motion experienced and the duration and size of this great earthquake," the IAEA said in its report.

An integrity study of the Fukushima plant wasn't possible. An 11-mile exclusion zone is in place around the plant, which suffered the worst nuclear disaster since the 1986 meltdown at the Chernobyl plant in Ukraine.

Japan in May shut its last operating nuclear reactor for maintenance, leaving the country without nuclear power for the first time in more than 40 years. By June, Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda gave approval for the restart of the Ohi nuclear power facility despite national protests.

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