WAMU 88.5 : News

Filed Under:

Dominion, NRC Differ Over Va. Nuclear Plant Safety

Play associated audio

Dominion Virginia Power is trying to convince federal regulators it should be allowed to put its North Anna nuclear power plant back online sooner rather than later after it shut off automatically following last month's earthquake. Dominion would like to resume normal operations at the plant by the end of the month -- but regulators have suggested they need more time to make sure the reactors are safe.

The company is in the process of evaluating damage to the North Anna plant following the recent earthquake. On Thursday, company representatives met with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission at the agency's heaquarters in Rockville, Md. 

NRC spokesperson Scott Burnell says every nuclear plant in the country is designed to withstand some seismic activity depending on where the plant is located,but what North Anna experienced on August 23 is different. 

"It's not a surprise that the quake happened," he says. "The fact that the shaking from this particular quake was stronger than some people might expect at the plant ... that was the surprising part." The North Anna plant is the first nuclear plant in the United States to ever experience seismic activity beyond what it was designed to handle.

Neither Dominion nor the Commission has found any significant damage at North Anna so far, but both reactors at the plant automatically shut down during the quake and remain offline. At a meeting with NRC technical staff on Thursday, Dominion Nuclear vice president Eugene Grecheck said instrumentation at the plant used to measure damage from seismic activity showed no significant problems in the aftermath of the earthquake. 

"Obviously, we don't have instrumentation on every device in the plant, but you have to start from 'Where would I expect to see damage?' I didn't see it, so you can draw the conclusion that there was no damage to other places, " he said.

Leaders at the NRC say that because their engineers still have many questions about what happened to the structure during the earthquake, Dominion's plan to restart the plant at the end of September may be overly optimistic.

Since the North Anna plant has been offline, Grecheck says Dominion has been forced to bring in extra power from alternative sources, but the change has not affected any customers.

NPR

Peruvians Love Their Chicha Street Art. The Government ... Not So Much

Walk down a street in Peru and you'll likely see an example of the glow-in-the-dark posters and murals. Lots of people love them. But the upper crust — and the government — aren't impressed.
NPR

Tea-Infused Sweets: Chocolate + Jasmine Tea Is A Match Made In Heaven

Smoky and floral brews can provide a kick of flavor to desserts, especially when blended with chocolate. Pastry chef Naomi Gallego shows us a few tricks for surprising the palate with tea.
WAMU 88.5

America's First Ladies

They walk a tricky line: closest adviser to the President of the United States and hostess in chief. A new book examines the evolution of the role of first lady of the United States.

WAMU 88.5

E-Cigarettes and Vaping

Last week, the D.C. Council voted to designate e-cigarettes and "similar vapor products containing nicotine" as tobacco products. That means that their sales tax will jump from the regular 5.75% sales tax to the 70% tax that's tacked onto sales of products like cigarettes and cigars. We explore what this means for the evolving public health debate surrounding e-cigarettes.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.