Dominion Virginia Power has restarted the first of two nuclear reactors at the North Anna Power Station in Louisa County, Va., for the first time since a 5.8-magnitude earthquake struck the area on August 23. The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission granted the company permission to restart the reactors on Friday.
The quake’s epicenter was just 11 miles from the plant, in Mineral, Va.
“The earthquake shook the reactors more strongly than the plant’s design anticipated, so Dominion had to prove to us that the quake caused no functional damage to the reactors’ safety systems,” said Eric Leeds, director of the NRC’s Office of Nuclear Reactor Regulation, in a statement. “We’re satisfied the plant meets our requirements to restart safely, and we’ll monitor Dominion’s ongoing tests and inspections during startup of both reactors.”
The nuclear fission process began today at 3 a.m., and the plant is expected to begin making electricity on Tuesday, reported the Richmond Times-Dispatch. After that, Dominion will begin the restart of the second reactor. The restart process takes about four days, and the company expects to have both units at 100 percent power in 10 days, Dominion said in a press release.
The reactors, which together generate 1,800-megawatts, make enough electricity to power 450,000 homes, the Times-Dispatch reported. They shut down automatically when the earthquake, which was felt along much of the East Coast of the U.S., struck.
“We have demonstrated to ourselves and to the NRC and are confident that North Anna is safe and ready to be restarted,” said David A. Heacock, president and chief nuclear officer-Dominion Nuclear, in a press release. “The station suffered no functional damage from the quake and is ready to resume generating clean, low-cost energy safely for our customers.”