Virginia Shuts Down Reactors After Summer Quake

Taking notes from Japan, perhaps. Two Virginia nuclear reactors have been shut down since an earthquake hit the state in August; an event which thankfully caused little damage.
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s review, however, is continuing and the agency hasn’t decided whether the reactors at the North Anna Power Station in Mineral, Virginia should return to service.

The reactors are some eleven miles from the quake’s epicenter. Seismic vibrations from the 5.8-magnitude earthquake last summer caused the reactors to shut down. The NRC is holding a public hearing on Nov. 1 at Louisa Middle School in Mineral to discuss the status of the review. The plant is located some fifty miles northwest of Richmond, the Virginia capital.

In an interview after the meeting, Leeds said that there is no timetable for making a decision on restarting the plant. NRC spokesman Scott Burnell said later on that it would be reasonable to expect a decision before the end of November.

Apparently, the earthquake caused the ground to shake more than the North Anna plant was designed to withstand, exceeding its “design basis”, which was a first at an operating nuclear plant in the United States. The company says that lack of damage from the earthquake shows that the plant’s seismic capability is even higher than that design basis.

Last Friday, a coalition called Beyond Nuclear said it had filed a petition with the NRC requesting that the agency suspend the plant’s operating license until several enforcement actions are taken.

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