The 6.8 earthquake that rocked Japan two weeks ago also shook that country’s largest nuclear power station, causing leaks, malfunctions and even triggering a fire that burnt a transformer. (No, not the robotic kind.) Naturally, the aftermath has incited some regulatory soul-searching in Japan, and it could have an effect on the current debate here in the U.S. on whether or not to turn towards nuclear as an answer to our energy woes.
Japan’s plants are built to withstand 6.5 earthquakes, but experts now say that level needs to go up. The shaking of the facility may have been the strongest ever measured at a nuclear plant, but according to officials, the damage was actually minimal. Though there was some water leakage, officials say the effects pose no threat to local residents. For now, the facility will remain closed until it’s clear that it will be able to withstand another major event in the quake-prone country.—Gregory Mone