The NRC is satisfied that the North Anna nuclear power plant in Virginia is safe to restart, almost three months after a nearby magnitude 5.8 earthquake forced the plant to shut down.
The NRC resident inspectors were on-site when the quake occurred Aug, 23, and they monitored the plant’s safe shutdown and performed initial inspections. The NRC sent additional inspectors to North Anna in September and October to gather more information on the plant’s response to the quake.
A team of NRC technical experts has spent the past two months examining those inspection results and additional analysis from North Anna. The team also asked the plant’s operator, Dominion, for more information. The team’s work covered the entire plant, from piping (including buried pipe) to nuclear fuel to pumps, valves and emergency diesel generators.
The NRC’s restart approval isn’t the end of the story, though – NRC staff, including the resident inspectors, will be at the plant around the clock the next few days, observing Dominion’s deliberate steps to bring the plant back to full power. The NRC will also monitor Dominion’s efforts to meet several long-term commitments, including installing better earthquake monitoring equipment and reanalyzing the plant’s ability to withstand future quakes.
The NRC met with the community near North Anna on Oct. 3 to discuss the agency’s first full inspection after the quake, and on Nov. 1 to discuss the restart readiness inspection findings and the staff’s technical review. The NRC also held public meetings at the agency’s Rockville, Md., headquarters Sept. 8 regarding Dominion’s initial assessment, and on Oct. 21 to brief the Commission regarding the plant’s response to the earthquake. Video from both headquarters meetings is available on the NRC’s Webcast archive. The NRC also has a Virginia earthquake Web page with more information about the event and the agency’s response.Scott Burnell Public Affairs Officer