A nuclear power plant in Louisa County, ten miles from the epicentre of the earthquake, has been shut down. Amanda Reidelbach [an emergency management spokeswoman for Louisa County] said the plant was venting steam but there was no release of radioactive material
Federal officials said two nuclear reactors at the North Anna Power Station were automatically taken off line by safety systems around the time of the earthquake.
The power plant was only built to withstand a magnitude 5.9 to 6.1 earthquake. Today’s earthquake measured 5.8.
Shut down: Officials said the two nuclear reactors had been automatically taken off line (file picture)
Emergency: The power plant is around 10 miles from the epicentre of the earthquake
The plant lost the power that runs the reactors’ cooling systems, but the plant’s four emergency diesel generators were started to maintain power to the critical safety equipment.
The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission this year ranked the power plant, which employs around 1,000 people, as the seventh most at risk of earthquake damage in the country.
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The two reactors, Anna 1 and Anna 2, face an annual one in 22,727 chance of the core being damaged by an earthquake and exposing the public to radiation, according to the commission.
The national average for U.S. nuclear power plants is a one in 74,000 chance.
Seismographs were installed at the reactors when they were built in 1978 and 1980, but were taken offline in the 1990s due to budget cuts.
Safety: The power plant was only built to withstand a magnitude 5.9 to 6.1 quake
Safety officials declared an ‘unusual event’, which is the second stage on the plant’s emergency scale.
Nuclear Regulatory Commission spokesman Roger Hannah said the agency was not immediately aware of any damage at the plants.
Teams are currently assessing any potential damage.
Nine other nuclear reactors in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland and Virginia registered an ‘unusual event’, but North Anna was the only plant reported to be shut down.
In March, Dominion Power, which operates the power plant, said it was designed to withstand a magnitude 5.9 to 6.1 earthquake.
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2029246/Earthquake-hits-US-East-Coast-Nuclear-plant-near-epicentre-shut-down.html#ixzz1VyZswRPZ
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