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Quake Shook Nuclear Power Plants As Far Away as Michigan

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Nuclear power plants as far away as Detroit were being inspected for damage and the North Anna Nuclear Plant was temporarily taken offline after a 5.8 earthquake in Mineral, Va.
USNRC
Nuclear power plants as far away as Detroit were being inspected for damage and the North Anna Nuclear Plant was temporarily taken offline after a 5.8 earthquake in Mineral, Va.

The North Anna Nuclear Plant located near the epicenter of Virginia's 5.9 magnitude earthquake was taken offline and several other plants were being inspected.

Twelve Nuclear Power Plants including those at Calvert Cliffs, Md. and as far away as Michigan felt Mineral, Va.'s 5.8 magnitude quake. They declared what's called an "unusual event", the lowest emergency classification level for Nuclear Power Plants.

"Declaring that precautionary announcement triggers an inspection around the plant just to make sure everything's fine," said David Macentire a Nuclear Regulatory Commission spokesman. "All those other plants are operating just as they were before and all are reporting everything is safe."

North Anna Plant is not operating, however. That's the plant with two nuclear reactors located near the epicenter of Virginia's plant in Louisa County. Power was automatically shut down and diesel generators are powering safety systems that cool the reactors.

Macentire says plants are built according to the seismic data of the regions where they're located. But he says "in recent years there has been new seismic data for the central and eastern United States and over the past few years the NRC has been analyzing these new data and new theories of looking at seismic risk."

That work he says is continuing, and there are no conclusions yet.

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