NRC, Dominion to Discuss Post-Earthquake Actions Taken at North Anna

Following last month’s earthquake in Virginia, everyone’s interested in learning more about the quake’s effects on the nearby North Anna nuclear power plant. The plant’s operator, Dominion, has information to share, so the NRC’s ready to listen.

NRC staff will meet with Dominion management from 1 – 5 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 8, in the Commissioners’ Conference Room on the first floor of the NRC’s One White Flint North building, at 11555 Rockville Pike in Rockville, Md. Having a public meeting on such short notice is very unusual, but Dominion’s information on such a unique situation needs to be discussed in a formal, open setting as soon as possible.

The NRC wants to make sure you have the opportunity to see what’s been learned, so the meeting will be available on the Live NRC Meeting page. Members of the public can attend the meeting by coming through security at the NRC’s One White Flint North entrance, at the corner of Rockville Pike and Marinelli Road in Rockville. The NRC is across the street from the White Flint Metro stop.

Dominion is expected to discuss its latest analysis of ground motion at the North Anna site, which sits about 12 miles from the earthquake’s epicenter in Louisa, Va. The company is also expected to describe its next steps in determining whether the plant meets NRC requirements to restart.

The two-reactor North Anna plant shut down safely following the quake, with both reactors operating as designed. Ongoing analysis by both the NRC and Dominion indicates the earthquake may have subjected the plant to more ground movement than specified in the plants’ designs. An NRC Augmented Inspection Team has been examining North Anna for the past week and the team plans to continue its work for another week. When the team completes its inspection, the NRC will hold a meeting near North Anna to discuss their preliminary results, and a final report is expected by the middle of October.

Scott Burnell
Public Affairs Officer

Closing Down a Unique NRC Facility

As the NRC wraps up operations at its Las Vegas Hearing Facility, let’s take a look back at how the agency decided where to put the facility and how it was used.

The NRC’s longstanding policy on hearings calls for them to be held near the proposed facility, when possible, and that the hearings be open to the public (except where classified or security-related information requires a closed session). When the NRC’s Atomic Safety and Licensing Board Panel (ASLBP) began working in 2000 on activities related to the proposed Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository, it was obvious the agency should look for a location near Yucca Mountain, in southern Nevada.

The NRC also had to account for several other factors:

• Congress directed the NRC to take no more than four years to review an application to build and operate Yucca Mountain;

• The potential for many parties and technical issues to be involved in any hearing on Yucca Mountain application;

• Agency rules on leveraging information technology to conduct the Yucca Mountain hearings as efficiently as possible; and

• Providing a secure, dedicated venue for those involved in what was anticipated to be the largest and most complex hearing in NRC history.

Las Vegas was clearly the best choice to meet these needs, but the city’s existing federal and commercial facilities didn’t have available space. So, the NRC spent two years budgeting and planning a facility to conduct the hearings.

The NRC worked through the General Services Administration to lease an appropriate building, at competitive rates, for the mandated three-to-four year Yucca Mountain review period, including options to extend the lease if necessary. The agency also heeded public calls for expanded access to the hearing by making the facility TV-friendly and adding videoconferencing and webcasting capabilities. Because of delays in the completion of the Department of Energy’s license application, the facility was finished and available well before that department submitted its formal Yucca Mountain license application in 2008.

In addition to Yucca Mountain-related sessions, the NRC has used the Las Vegas facility to host regional-based outreach meetings and other agency activities. ASLB staff used the facility to support the board’s field hearings in other Western states, and the staff supported the Licensing Support Network, which made tens of millions of pages of technical documents available to the public

Since the current federal budget process has closed out support for review of the Yucca Mountain application, the NRC is being financially responsible by terminating the facility’s lease. While the technology installed at the facility did provide an unprecedented level of public access into the agency’s activities, after six years of technological advances the computer equipment is fully depreciated. Any equipment that is still usable is being transferred to other NRC offices or other federal agencies, or is being donated to Las Vegas-area schools.

Scott Burnell
Public Affairs Officer
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