US quake rattled nuke waste casks

2011-09-01 10:30

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.

  • GH - 2011-09-01 10:55

    Where are the pro-nuke comments? Oh yes, we just leave the rubbish for the next generation to sort out.

      Wes - 2011-09-01 11:19

      Did it leak? Its actually people like you who are stopping the production of safe nuclear technology because of your unreasonable opposition.

      claudevn - 2011-09-01 11:20

      Yup, was thinking the same thing just now... In fact, they should either STOP producing nuclear waste, or consider not storing it on our planet AT ALL... One or the other will stop the problem... @GH... Our children WILL have this problem to deal with, regardless of how "safely" they store it all... Ai ai ai...

      Cire - 2011-09-01 12:37

      @GH. Here's one pro-nuke comment for you - the containers MOVED! OMG! So what? Nothing leaked, no injurues, nobody died, no damage caused. Have a nice cup of tea and relax! Paranoid hysteria just freezes us at the point of using the most polluting source of energy of them all - coal-fired power stations.

      Shistirrer - 2011-09-01 14:03

      GH - guess what - you are breathing CO2 into the atmosphere, causing global warming! Please remove yourself or stop breathing, else my kids will have your rubbish to sort out!

      ihatum - 2011-09-02 15:02

      @Wes - Just what do you mean by unreasonable opposition?.

      ihatum - 2011-09-02 15:04

      @Shistirrer - that's a dumb argument, been to school?, learnt what plants do with carbon dioxide?, know why we need to plant more trees?

  • Brian - 2011-09-01 11:12

    Why not bring the space shuttles out of retirement and store/dump these containers on the far side of the moon???

      TimStorm - 2011-09-01 11:20

      No "Rocket Science" needed here Brian :)

      Audacious12 - 2011-09-01 16:13

      Are you not content that we polute the Earth, but that we must polute the whole universe?

  • TimStorm - 2011-09-01 11:12

    I'm currently sitting working at a Nucleat Power Station in SA (as qualified Ecotoxicologist and Radiation Protection Officer). The management of low, intermediate and high level waste (please note nuclear power stations produce extremely low volumes of such waste)is exemplary. The impact on the environment and humans is FAR lower than your local municipality's general waste disposal site. Anti-nuclear emotive arguments are not helpful.

      Flamewulf - 2011-09-01 11:26

      I agree TimStorm. Nuclear is currently the best option for "green" energy.

  • toleranne - 2011-09-01 11:47

    FEE FI FO FUM! Someone moved my cheese! Yes dear, that's what earthquakes do ... Let's [not] hold our breath for 140 years waiting for the next one. California is laughing its head off.

  • ihatum - 2011-09-02 15:01

    And then what? - is this waste recyclable or are they looking for a perpetual dump.

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