We are happy to report that the North Anna Power Station in Louisa County, Virginia, is no longer relying on backup generators to cool its two nuclear reactors in the wake of the 5.8-magnitude earthquake that rumbled up the East Coast Tuesday (8/24). The strongest quake to hit the area in nearly 70 years – centered just 11 miles from the nuclear plant – knocked out offsite power to the facility, which automatically triggered a shut down of the two reactors.
According to an Associate Press report, “the plant’s four backup diesel generators started as designed and continued to run the reactors’ cooling systems.” However, one of the emergency generators had to be shut down due to a coolant leak.
Dominion Virginia Power – the plant’s owner and operator – said in a statement that although offsite power has been restored, the two nuclear reactors remain offline. There was no word on when they will be restarted.
The North Anna reactors were designed to withstand a 6.2-magnitude quake. From the AP report:
The NRC requires that nuclear power plants be designed to take into account the most severe natural phenomena historically reported in a nuclear plant’s area. The Geological Survey said a well-built structure should be able to shrug off a quake like Tuesday’s.
As we learned from the catastrophic situation that continues to unfold at Japan’s Fukushima-Daiichi plant, natural disasters can test the bounds of safety at nuclear facilities. More from the AP:
Other nuclear-power plants declaring unusual events, which indicate a potential decrease in plant safety, include Peach Bottom, Three Mile Island, Susquehanna and Limerick in Pennsylvania; Salem, Hope Creek and Oyster Creek in New Jersey; Calvert Cliffs in Maryland; Shearon Harris in North Carolina; and D.C. Cook and Palisades in Michigan, according to the NRC.
All those plants continued to operate while plant personnel examine their sites.
We’ll continue to watch this story closely – but, at least for now, it appears a crisis has been averted at the North Anna facility.
Read the Associated Press report here: http://www2.timesdispatch.com/news/2011/aug/24/-site-power-restored-north-anna-nuke-plant-ar-1258861/
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