BREAKING: 5.9 Earthquake Strikes Near 7th most At-Risk Nuclear Power Station for Earthquake Damage – If foreshock, then worse is yet to come

Author: 5 Comments Share:

[box_dark]UPDATED 3:10 PM CST[/box_dark]

Dominion VA Power

@DomVAPowerDominion VA Power
An earthquake occurred in Central#VA today. Both reactors at North Anna Power Station were shut down safely with no reports of damage.
No release of of radioactive material has occurred beyond those associated with normal station operations. #VAquake.
5 minutes ago via web
CBS 6 WTVR Richmond
CONFIRMED: North Anna Nuclear Power Plant being evacuated, near center of 5.9 #quake in #Mineral, VA. Watch us live for latest info!

[quote]

CONFIRMED: North Anna Nuclear Power Plant being evacuated to only ‘critical’ personnel

[/quote]

Aug. 23 (Bloomberg) — Dominion Resources Inc. lost all offsite power at its North Anna nuclear power plant in Virginia and began using backup diesel generators after a 5.9-magnitude earthquake struck nearby.

One of the four diesel generators stopped working after startup, David McIntyre, a spokesman for the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, said in an e-mail today. There were no reports of damage at the plant, he said. North Anna is about 7 miles (11 kilometers) from the earthquake’s epicenter in Mineral, Virginia, according to Bloomberg data.

Non-emergency workers were evacuated from North Anna, said Amanda Reidelbach, a spokeswoman for the Louisa County sheriff’s office.

Dominion Update

RICHMOND, Va., Aug. 23, 2011 /PRNewswire/ — Dominion Virginia Power declared an Alert at the North Anna Power Station in Mineral, Va., following an earthquake in Central Virginia. The reactors have been shut down safely and no major damage has been reported.

Both reactors have been shut down. The emergency diesel generators started as off-site power from the electric grid was lost. No release of radioactive material has occurred beyond those minor releases associated with normal station operations.

The earthquake also caused the company’s newest power station, Bear Garden in Buckingham County, to shut down automatically.

Running on backup generators 2:25

Dominion Resources Inc. has lost all offsite power at its North Anna nuclear power plant in Virginia after an earthquake struck.

The plant is operating using diesel generators, Beth Hayden, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, said today.

A nuclear power plant in central Virginia has lost offsite power in the wake of a 5.9 earthquake centered northwest of Richmond, Va., U.S. nuclear officials said.

The North Anna Power Station, which has two nuclear reactors, is now using four diesel generators to maintain cooling operations. The plant automatically shut down in the wake of the earthquake.

“As far as we know, everything is safe,” said Nuclear Regulatory Commission spokesman David McIntyre.

There are seven additional nuclear plants that have declared unusual events, which is the lowest of four emergency situations, the NRC said.

Those plants are located in Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

The fuel for the ancillary generators is stored in a tank located in the same room as the generators.
The tank is Seismic Category II and holds sufficient fuel for 4 days of operation.

Workers Insepcting Plant

The plant declared an alert, the second lowest level of emergency declaration, a commission spokesmansaid.

The North Anna plant lost the power from off site that runs the reactors’ cooling systems, Norvelle said, but the plant’s four backup diesel generators started as designed.

Officials are assessing the plant for damage, said the NRC’s Joey Ledford.

“Our workers are doing a walkdown of the site as we speak,” Norvelle said. The North Anna plant employs about 1,000 workers, Dominion Virginia Power said.

Constellation Energy Group Inc. declared an unusual event at its Calvert Cliffs nuclear power plant in Maryland, about 45 miles east of Washington. Both units continued to operate, according to an e-mail from Mark Sullivan, a company spokesman.

PPL Corp. also declared an unusual event at its Susquehanna reactors in Pennsylvania. Unit 1 is operating at full power and Unit 2’s return to full output is being delayed “as a precautionary measure,” according to a company statement.

U.S. Geological Surveyhas confirmed an earthquake struckcentral Virginia at 1:53 p.m four miles south-southeast of Louisa, Va., near Mineral, Va. It has been felt throughout the D.C. metro region and over a large part of the eastern U.S. Initial indications are that it measured 5.9 on the Richter scale.

While there are no reports yet on the integrity of the local plant, reports of the epicenter being based in Mineral, Virgina suggest that the North Anna nuclear plant is located just a short 10 miles away.

The North Anna plant was built in the late 1970s and the two reactors went online in 1978 and 1980. According to not always reliable Wikipedia entry, the plant is located in a relatively rural area:

The 2010 U.S. population within 10 miles (16 km) of North Anna was 21,396, an increase of 15.7 percent in a decade, according to an analysis of U.S. Census data for msnbc.com. The 2010 U.S. population within 50 miles (80 km) was 1,912,015, an increase of 22.6 percent since 2000. Cities within 50 miles include Richmond (40 miles to city center).[3]”

Minutes after the quake, the director of the U.S. Geological Survey, Marcia McNutt — who watched objects falling from the shelves in her office — cautioned that the shaking might not be over.

“What the concern is, of course, is that this is a foreshock. If it’s a foreshock, then the worse is yet to come.”

“When something like this happen, everyone has to remember, more than half of the states in the U.S. are considered earthquake country. When something like this happens, remember what to do in the case of a seismic event. Duck, get under something sturdy like a desk or a doorway, get away from falling glass. Make sure that you are not in the way of falling objects like pictures, bookshelves, books, anything that’s not firmly connected the wall.”

The United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission has ranked the earthquake damage risk at all 104 nuclear power plants in this country. The pair operated by Dominion Power, at Lake Anna in eastern Louisa County, come in at 7th most ‘at risk’ on the list.According to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, North Anna 1 and 2 face an annual 1 in 22,727 chance of the core being damaged by an earthquake and exposing the public to radiation. The national average for U.S. nuclear plants is a 1 in 74,000 chance.The top five most at-risk plants are all on the east coast: Indian Point, north of New York City; the Pilgrim Plant south of Boston, Limerick outside of Philadelphia, the Sequoyah plants near Chattanooga Tennessee and Beaver Valley near Pittsburgh. These five plants are at a higher statistical risk than those along fault lines in California, for example, because they were not designed for and built in presumed strong quake danger areas. Since they were constructed the federal government has revised upwards the quake risks where they are.According to Jim Norvelle with Dominion Power, North Anna was designed to withstand a magnitude 5.9 – 6.1 earthquake.

The plant declared an alert, the second lowest level of emergency declaration, a commission spokesmansaid.

The North Anna plant lost the power from off site that runs the reactors’ cooling systems, Norvelle said, but the plant’s four backup diesel generators started as designed.

Officials are assessing the plant for damage, said the NRC’s Joey Ledford.

“Our workers are doing a walkdown of the site as we speak,” Norvelle said. The North Anna plant employs about 1,000 workers, Dominion Virginia Power said.

[quote]
Enformable

Enformable Enformable

@DomVAPower Do you have status of fuel supply for generators? Any plans yet for alternate backup power while off-site power is restored?

Dominion VA Power

@DomVAPowerDominion VA Power
@Enformable Sorry, I don’t have that level of detail at this time. Will get back to you as soon as I have more updated info.

[/quote]

Previous Article

Michio Kaku on Virginia Earthquake and Effects: This is a wake-up call “We dodged a bullet on this one.”

Next Article

Fire Burns 128 Acres Including 35 Acres at INL – Testing ground for nuclear reactors

5 Comments

  1. Once Again, you are on top of it! Thank you. Also, it appears that the NRC Headquarters in Rockville Md (Command Center) has been evacuated – No Adult Supervision?

    I am most concerned about North Anna being on the Emergency Diesels. Calvert Cliffs in Maryland and Surry south of Richmond need to be on Alert too.

    Also, Hurricane Irene is on its way. Very interesting indeed.

    Keep up the good work
    Thanks!

  2. 1. Trying to call Virginia and phone calls are unable to go through.

    2. Do these back-up generators last 4 hours or more? Or am I confusing it with NRC rules that power plants are only required to have generators for 4 hours (maybe 8 ?) of back-up power?

    Common sense would dictate that back-up generators should be required for at least a week. Better more than less in this case.

    3. This is also a reason why the U.S. needs to have radiation monitors in every county, like Germany does, so we can be aware of radiation releases, and not months down the road…

    Link to Germany’s monitoring:

    http://odlinfo.bfs.de/

Leave a Reply