WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The historic earthquake that shut down Dominion Resources Inc's North Anna nuclear plant last week may have exceeded what the reactor was designed to withstand, the U.S. nuclear regulator said on Monday.


The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission said it has dispatched an additional team of inspectors to the Virginia plant that was rocked by the 5.8 magnitude earthquake last week, after initial reviews from Dominion indicated the ground motion may have went beyond the plant's design.

The North Anna plant can not be restarted until the operator can show that no "functional damage" occurred to equipment needed for the safe operation, the NRC said.

"The company and the NRC will continue to carefully evaluate information to determine if additional actions may be necessary," the regulator said in a statement.

The NRC has been reviewing the ability of U.S. plants to withstand major disasters after the crisis at Japan's Fukushima nuclear complex.

(Reporting by Ayesha Rascoe; Editing by Bob Burgdorfer)

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