Anti-nuclear power groups took aim at the proposed North Anna 3 reactor build with 13 organizations submitting a letter to Virginia's Gov. Terry McAuliffe and to members of the state assembly and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
The letter was also sent to Dominion Resources, which has proposed a third reactor be built at the site in a process that officially began in November 2007. The original application in 2007 called for construction of an a General Electric Hitachi Economic Simplified Boiling Water Reactor – ESBWR – which would be designated as North Anna, Unit 3. In June of 2010, Dominion switched its plans and applied for permission to construct a U.S. APWR, an Advanced Pressurized Water Reactor. However, this application was revised a second time in July 2013 with Dominion reverting to the Economic Simplified Boiling Water Reactor technology for North Anna Unit 3, which would operate next to the first two units, which went on line in 1978 and 1980, respectively.
The application review begun in December 2007. The company has since completed three steps of a six phase Safety Evaluation Report with the target date for completion of Phase 4 set for September of this year.
The environmental review, separate from the safety review, was handled through and Early Site Permit that was obtained early in the regulatory process. Currently, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission says it is monitoring the plans for changes, which may require a supplement to the environmental assessment. A previously ordered supplement was withdrawn, when Dominion reverted to its original reactor design.
Consequently, the focus of anti-nuclear power groups this week was safety and economics. Many pointed to the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi power station disaster as a signal that it is time to take nuclear power off the list of energy options. Others pointed out the expense, using delays at the Vogtle construction site in Georgia as evidence that cost overruns create unforeseen economic stress.
It was also noted that the North Anna Power Station sits near a fault line that caused an earthquake in August 2011, which shook the facility, even moving some of the plant's dry spent fuel storage casks.
The earthquake had its epicenter 61 miles northwest of Richmond, Va., in Louisa County, home of the nuclear power station. It was a 5.8-magnitude earthquake with level VII shockwaves, which are considered very strong. It was also the strongest earthquake in the area since 1897.
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