A nuclear power plant in Virginia automatically cut power to two reactors after a 5.9 magnitude earthquake struck the east coast of the United States on Tuesday.
The North Anna Power Station is just ten miles from the quake's epicenter in Mineral, Virginia. Currently, four diesel-powered back-up generators are running the reactors' cooling mechanisms
As far as we know, everything is safe, Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) spokesman David McIntyre told the Wall Street Journal.
In March, the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant in Japan lost power to four reactors after a 9.0 magnitude earthquake and subsequent tsunami hit the area. Three reactors experienced a full melt-down and caused nuclear radiation to permeate the surrounding region, while a fourth reactor caught fire.
The Fukushima disaster terrified people around the world, and many governments, including those in Germany and Italy, voted to abandon their nuclear energy programs. In the United States, it led to stricter regulations, in preparation for exactly the type of event that occurred Tuesday.
The NRC inspected the North Anna plant in April, finding that there were vulnerabilities which could degrade the functionality following a seismic event, according to a commission document, but so far, the potential leakage... through penetration after an earthquake have not occurred.
Although the NRC has completed inspection on plants around the country, there has not been adequate time for energy companies to update facilities since the safety reports were issued.
US President Barack Obama has asked to be kept up to date on the status of the North Anna Power Station, iWatchNews reported, and he held a conference call with NRC chairman Greg Jaczko moments after the earthquake.
The Virginia plant is owned and operated by Dominion Resources. One of the largest energy companies in the region, about 41 percent of Dominion's electric production comes from nuclear power.
There are a total of 104 operating nuclear reactors in the United States, according to the Nuclear Energy Institute. Most of them are on the east coast or in the mid-west, and there are several plants in California and Arizona.
At least seven other plants declared an unusual events on Tuesday, most of them operating as normal, but under a careful watch. Nuclear facilities in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and New York reported that there was no damage done to plants.
The Susquehanna nuclear power near Berwick, Pennsylvania is keeping power off at one of two reactors. Power had been previously shut down for scheduled maintenance, and the PPL Corporation has decided to delay the return to full power.
We are taking prudent steps to check the condition of our plant, PPL spokesman Joe Scopelliti said in a statement. The safety of our plant neighbors and employees is our primary concern.
The seismic activity detected at the plant is well below levels the plant was designed to withstand, the statement continued.