Within seconds of the afternoon tremor, the plant automatically shut down. At that time, the facility lost off-site power and control rods dropped into thereactor core and stopped the nuclear chain reaction, shutting down the reactor.
Officials are unsure whether the rods fell due to the shaking or loss of power, but the rods dropping is not unusual and can happen even during something as simple as a blown fuse.
Damage ranged from small buckles and cracks in tile floors in one of its technical buildings, to bolts of large metal parts that transfer power from transformers to the electrical grid and into homes.
When the quake hit, unit supervisor Jason Russell, 30, was standing behind the counter of the control room, a vast space filled with walls of colored and lighted buttons to help engineers monitor all of the facility’s parts. Russell immediately informed his team to enter emergency procedures, but the system had already automatically shut down for safety.
“We felt the shaking and we weren’t necessarily sure it was an earthquake. It didn’t correlate, but we knew we had something going on,” said Russell, who like others in the control room has practiced emergency scenarios like an earthquake during training. “It was definitely exciting initially, but then you kind of just go back to what you’re trained to do.”
Based on preliminary data, the plant did exceed some seismic measures for its site design.
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