US quake rattled nuke waste casks

2011-09-01 10:30
Steam rises from secondary cooling systems at the North Anna Nuclear power plant in Mineral, Virginia. Dominion Virginia Power says its North Anna Power Station in Louisa County is no longer relying on backup generators after the reactors were automa

Steam rises from secondary cooling systems at the North Anna Nuclear power plant in Mineral, Virginia. Dominion Virginia Power says its North Anna Power Station in Louisa County is no longer relying on backup generators after the reactors were automa

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Washington - The earthquake that shook the US East Coast last week rattled huge, heavy casks holding radioactive nuclear waste at a Virginia plant, moving them as much as 11cm from their original position, the plant's operator has said.

The 5.8-magnitude quake shifted 25 casks, each 4.9m tall and weighing 115 tons, on a concrete pad at Dominion Resources Inc's North Anna nuclear plant in Virginia, the Richmond Times-Gazette reported on Wednesday, citing company officials.

"They just moved because of the vibration," Dominion spokesperson Rick Zuercher said.

"They remained upright and fully intact."

Officials from the company and the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission were not immediately available for comment.

Already under scrutiny following Fukushima disaster

The North Anna plant, located about 19km from the quake's epicentre near Mineral, Virginia, has been shut down since the August 23 quake as inspectors check for damage.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission is doing a special review because of preliminary data showing that shaking from the quake exceeded the plant's design rating.

The regulator already was scrutinising how well the US fleet of 104 reactors could withstand earthquakes, floods and other disasters after a quake and tsunami wrecked Japan's Fukushima Daiichi plant in March, the world's worst nuclear disaster in 25 years.

The United States, which has the world's largest nuclear power industry, has grappled for decades over how to permanently store waste, and the US government is considering a proposal for a network of centralised "dry cask" storage sites where plants could take their used fuel.

Read more on:    us  |  earthquakes  |  nuclear
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