by Paula C. Squires
Dominion Virginia Power is seeking permission from the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission to restart two nuclear reactors that shut down at its North Anna Power Station during an earthquake last month. However, an agency spokesman said Tuesday no decision has been made regarding a timeline.
“There are still some issues that have to resolved, and we are still evaluating their request,” said Roger Hannah, an NRC spokesman.
Richmond-based Dominion had asked the commission to possibly restart one of the reactors by the end of the month, once it completes a series of tests and inspections that have been ongoing since a magnitude 5.8 earthquake tripped both of the plant’s reactors offline on Aug. 23. The quake occurred in Mineral, about 11 miles away. It was the first time a U.S. nuclear power plant lost offsite electrical power as the result of a quake.
The public will be given an opportunity to hear preliminary results from an NRC team on the effects of the earthquake and the plant’s response during a public hearing. It has been scheduled for Monday, Oct. 3, at 1 p.m. at the North Anna Nuclear Information Center, 1022 Haley Drive in Mineral.
The meeting will include members of the inspection team — led by NRC Region II Branch Chief Mark Franke and North Anna senior resident inspector Greg Kolcum — as well as managers from NRC headquarters in Rockville, Md., and the Region II office in Atlanta. After results are presented to Dominion, NRC staff will be available to answer questions from media representatives and the public.
NRC regulations require that the station not restart until it can demonstrate that no functional damage occurred to features needed for continued safe operation. Its team is expected to release a final inspection report later in October that will be available on the NRC’s website.