The North Anna nuclear facility that shut down following Virginia’s 5.8-magnitude earthquake in August remains offline, but regulators say the plant sustained “no significant damage” and that the plant operator’s response protected public safety.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission held a public meeting Monday during which it summarized its findings in the wake of North Anna’s shutdown. Regulators confirmed that shaking from the August 23 quake centered in Mineral, Va., just a few miles from North Anna, exceeded what the plant was designed to withstand.

The NRC has defined a series of steps that must be taken by plant operator Dominion Power before the plant can be restarted. The agency has cited problems with equipment that need to be addressed, and the need for better monitoring of seismic activity.

“We’re reviewing Dominion’s information to ensure North Anna’s systems will be able to keep the public safe, and the plant won’t start up again until we’re satisfied on that point,” said Eric Leeds of the NRC in a press release.

The NRC has not said when it expects to approve a restart of North Anna. In Monday’s meeting, it said that regulators would continue to conduct safety reviews “as part of the restart decision-making process.”

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  1. name witheld
    October 7, 2011, 12:50 pm

    A 5.8 is more than the plant was designed to withstand? Really??? I understand that earthquakes on the eastern side of the USA are less frequent and usually of lower magnitude than what happens on the west coast, but….they do and always will occur. What was this plant designed to withstand? Does anyone know? If the bar is set at this level, what are the plants near/on top of the really big US faults designed for? I wonder if there are any designed for greater than the one that destroyed Fukushima (i.e. >9.0)