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Quake-rattled nuclear plant in Virginia powers back up

November 12, 2011 |  1:35 pm

North Anna Nuclear power plant

A Virginia nuclear power plant forced to shut down in August by a 5.3-magnitude earthquake that rattled the East Coast is powering back up after receiving the go-ahead to resume operations.

Two nuclear reactors at Dominion Virginia Power’s North Anna Power Station, about 11 miles from the Aug. 23 earthquake’s epicenter, were automatically shut down after the earthquake caused about twice as much ground movement as the plant was designed to sustain.

Inspections by the energy company and federal regulators uncovered no functional damage to the 1,800-megawatt reactors or other safety components at the plant about 50 miles from Richmond. Dominion said it devoted more than 100,000 hours and $21 million for inspections, testing and evaluations to get the plant operating again.

The company received permission to resume operation from the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission on Friday. The plant initiated the restart process for one of the reactors the same day.

Dominion estimates it will take 10 days for both reactors to be fully operational.


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Photo: Steam in vented from secondary cooling systems at the North Anna Nuclear power plant in Mineral, Va., on Aug. 24, one day after the quake. Credit: Steve Helber / Associated Press