Friday, August 26, 2011

Nuclear Plant Lost Electricity in Temblor from Virginia Quake: Are US nuclear plants ready for a major disaster?

Tuesday's 5.8-magnitude earthquake created a state of emergency at the North Anna nuclear-power station in central Virginia, causing it to lose electricity and automatically shut down, although generators restored power.

The North Anna Power Station declared an "alert" status, which is the second lowest of four emergency situations.

Jim Norvelle, director of media relations for Dominion Resources Inc., operator of the North Anna plant, said its workers inspected the switch yard, through which electricity enters and leaves the installation, and believe problems there caused the nuclear plant to lose access to grid power. When the plant lost access to grid power, it automatically shut down.

Mr. Norvelle said the four diesel generators at the plant, 40 miles northwest of Richmond, can furnish enough electricity to run vital safety systems indefinitely at the two-reactor site. Electricity is needed to keep the reactor cores covered with coolant and to keep safe temperatures in spent fuel pools. Problems in both those areas led to the near-meltdown of reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi plant in Japan, following a 9.0 earthquake and tsunami on March 11. more