Regulators Calls for Further Investigation at Earthquake-Affected Plant in Virginia


Norvelle agreed with the NRC that there has been "no significant damage" from the earthquake including to any of the station's "pumps, valves, pipes, support structure, or safety equipment."

"What we have found is some thermal insulation shook off pipes. Some equipment on the electric transformers needed to be replaces. We have seen cracking in a wall of a commercial grade building, an office building adjacent to the power station," Norvelle explained. The office building is not built to the same standards as the nuclear plant.

Norvelle said Dominion is "fully cooperating" with the NRC and the NRC's team will be onsite for one week and then will return for a second week after which a public exit meeting will be held to tell the community about what they found in their investigation. Norvelle said members of the community are welcome to come with questions and concerns.

Edwin Lyman, a nuclear physicist with the Union of Concerned Scientists nuclear safety project, is pleased that the NRC is conducting a further investigation before the plant starts operating again. Lyman says the NRC should "thoroughly analyze and investigate" the plant for any problems with the "safety equipment that could be affected by the shaking."

Lyman says he doesn't believe the North Anna station is an "immediate hazard," but that the continued investigation sheds light on a larger worry.

"It does illustrate a concern that we have and that has really come to light after Fukushima that there is incomplete knowledge how nuclear plants can withstand earthquakes they experience over the next several decades," Lyman said. "There is growing knowledge that nuclear plants in the central and eastern United States may be vulnerable to more severe earthquakes than was previously thought and the NRC and the industry are not moving fast enough to deal with that information."

Dominion told ABC News they will thoroughly evaluate the results of the investigation before reopening the plant.

"We all want to demonstrate to the NRC this power station is safe to operate and we have to do that before we think about restarting the units," Norvelle said.

ABC News' Brian Hartman contributed reporting.

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