North Anna On Alert, 12 Nuclear Plants Declare Unusual Events Following Va. Earthquake

Cut off from outside power, the North Anna nuclear plant remained on alert Tuesday night following an earthquake in Virginia, while some of the 12 nuclear plants that declared unusual events began withdrawing those notifications.

The 5.8-magnitude trembler began at 1:51 p.m., EST, 5 miles south-southwest of Mineral, Va., according to the U.S. Geological Survey. The epicenter lies 12 miles from North Anna, where two Westinghouse pressurized water reactors owned by Dominion Resources tripped automatically.

North Anna nuclear plant. Source: NRCA Dominion release indicated no major damage was reported, but operators declared an alert after the plant lost external power. Four diesel generators provided backup power, although a Nuclear Regulatory Commission spokesman told Bloomberg one stopped working because of a coolant leak. Dominion indicated it replaced the lost backup generation with a fifth diesel generator, and that the plant has a seven-day supply of fuel on site.

Reactors at Dominion’s other nuclear plant in Virginia, Surry, remained at full power after the earthquake, but Surry joined 11 other locations in declaring unusual events as workers inspected systems for damage.

 “NRC staff in the Maryland headquarters felt the quake and immediately began checking with U.S. nuclear power plants. The NRC is in direct communications with North Anna and is coordinating its response with other federal agencies,” an NRC release read. The agency activated its incident response centers in Georgia and Pennsylvania.

Unusual event declarations were issued for: Peach Bottom, Three Mile Island, Susquehanna, Limerick, Salem, Hope Creek, Oyster Creek, Calvert Cliffs, Surry, Shearon Harris, D.C. Cook and Palisades. At least four plants dropped their unusual event declarations by early evening Tuesday. In a release, Exelon said it terminated its notifications at Peach Bottom, Limerick, Three Mile Island and Oyster Creek by 5:45 p.m.

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