Oh well, what’s a few decimal points on the Richter scale when it comes to shareholder dividends?
The earthquake that prompted the shutdown of a Virginia nuclear power plant last week may have been more severe than the plant’s reactors were designed to withstand, federal regulators said.
The revelation is likely to put increased pressure on the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) to quickly implement a series of safety recommendations intended in part to protect plants from major natural disasters like earthquakes.
NRC said Monday that its preliminary analysis indicates that the ground motion caused by the magnitude-5.8 earthquake near the North Anna Power Station in Louisa County, Va., exceeded the maximum level the two reactors at the plant were built to handle.
But the commission noted in a statement Monday that “data is still being collected and analyzed to determine the precise level of shaking that was experienced at key locations within the North Anna facility.”
NRC decided to send additional inspectors to the North Anna power plant after conducting the analysis, the commission said Monday.
“The fact that we’re sending an [augmented inspection team] should not be interpreted to mean that Dominion staff responded inappropriately or that the station is less safe as a result of the quake,” NRC Region II Administrator Victor McCree said in a statement. “An AIT provides us with the resources needed to completely understand all the effects at North Anna and gather important information for the NRC’s continuing evaluation of earthquake risk at all U.S. nuclear plants.”