Regions Central Virginia

Seismic vibrations from earthquake caused nuclear reactors to shut down

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Officials at the U. S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission said Wednesday that they are reviewing documents submitted Tuesday night by Dominion Virginia Power that show that seismic vibrations from a magnitude 5.8 earthquake on Aug. 23 caused the company’s two nuclear reactors at North Anna Power Station to shut down.  Previously, it was believed that the 980-megawatt reactors tripped offline after losing off-site electrical power.

The quake’s epicenter in Mineral was located 11 miles west/southwest of the station in Louisa County.  In its evaluation of the shutdown, Dominion Virginia Power said the root cause for the trip came from “a combination of seismically induced conditions,” which essentially caused a drop in the plant’s power.

Joey Ledford, a public affairs officer for the NRC, said the agency had no comment on Dominion’s documents. “We’re reviewing them. We’ll be talking about what our inspectors found at Monday’s meeting,” he said, referring to a public meeting in Mineral on Oct. 3, where the NRC will share the results of what a special team of inspectors found during inspections since the quake.
The meeting will be held at 1 p.m. at the North Anna Nuclear Information Center at 1022 Haley Drive in Mineral.  The center is designed to hold 250 people.

Dominion Virginia Power, a subsidiary of Richmond-based Dominion Resources, Inc., is seeking permission to restart the reactors, which they said suffered no significant safety damage from the quake.

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