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Quake sensors removed around Virginia nuke plant due to budget cuts

By David Edwards
Tuesday, August 23, 2011 15:52 EDT
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A nuclear power plant that was shut down after an earthquake struck central Virginia Tuesday had seismographs removed in 1990s due to budget cuts.

U.S. nuclear officials said that the North Anna Power Station, which has two nuclear reactors, had lost offsite power and was using diesel generators to maintain cooling operations after an 5.9 earthquake hit the region.

The North Anna plant, which was near the epicenter of Tuesday’s quake, is reportedly located on a fault line.

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission rates the plant as the seventh most likely to receive core damage from a quake. But they say the chances of that are only 1 in 22,727.

According to the Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy (DMME), the Virginia Tech Seismological Observatory (VTSO) removed all seismographs from around the plant in the 1990s due to budget cuts.

In February, Dominion Virginia Power confirmed its commitment to add a third reactor to the plant.

“While Dominion has not decided on the schedule to build the unit, the company will continue to move forward with the federal combined operating license process and preliminary site development work,” Dominion CEO Thomas F. Farrell II said in a statement.

Update: Institute for Policy Studies (IPS) Senior Scholar Bob Alvarez told the Project on Government Oversight (POGO) that the North Anna plant was built to withstand a 5.9-6.1 quake.

David Edwards
David Edwards
David Edwards has served as an editor at Raw Story since 2006. His work can also be found at Crooks & Liars, and he's also been published at The BRAD BLOG. He came to Raw Story after working as a network manager for the state of North Carolina and as as engineer developing enterprise resource planning software. Follow him on Twitter at @DavidEdwards.
 
 
 
 
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