Some disturbing news today about what happened to the North Anna nuclear plant during last Tuesday’s 5.8 earthquake. The Washington Post reported today:
Last week’s central Virginia earthquake jolted huge concrete containers holding spent nuclear fuel at the North Anna power plant in Louisa County, shifting some containers one to four inches, said the plant’s operator, Dominion Virginia Power.
The containers, called casks, each weigh 115 tons and are filled with bundles of uranium dioxide fuel rods that no longer generate enough heat to produce electricity.
The plant houses 53 casks on two concrete pads. Of the 27 casks on one pad, 25 shifted during the magnitude 5.8 earthquake that struck Aug. 23 about 12 miles south of the plant, Dominion spokesman Richard Zuercher said.
A leading expert on nuclear issues put the shifting casks into perspective:
“This indicates that reactors that have these dry casks in these earthquake-prone areas, they’re going to have to do more to protect them from ground motion,” said Robert Alvarez of the Institute for Policy Studies, who has extensively studied nuclear waste storage. “One thing is to bolt them to the pads, and that’s not a Home Depot-type job. The pads themselves also need to be examined to see if they’re durable enough.”