30 September 2011

Quake shook nuclear plant beyond threshold

NORTH ANNA, Va., Sept. 8 (UPI) -- The nuclear power plant near the epicenter of the Aug. 23 Virginia earthquake experienced more shaking than it was built to withstand, officials said Thursday.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission said the North Anna (Va.) Power Station can handle shaking of as much as 18 percent of the force of gravity. The U.S. Geological Survey measured shaking of 26 percent the force of gravity at the plant on the day of the 5.8-magnitude earthquake, The Washington Post reported Thursday.

Dominion Virginia Power officials said inspections revealed there has been no damage to "safety-related" structures at the plant, despite the data. Nuclear power plants are often built with a large safety margin, according to nuclear experts.

The NRC has not completed its inspection of the facility and has not said when it will give approval for the plant's reactors to restart.

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