Dam at Virginia nuke plant inspected for damage after quake — Engineering experts had classified it as “high-hazard”

Published: August 25th, 2011 at 5:34 pm ET


Dominion’s North Anna Power Station Restores Offsite Power, Press Release, August 23, 2011:

The company also inspected the Lake Anna Dam after the earthquake and determined it sustained no damage. Station inspections are continuing to assure no damage has resulted from the seismic event.

A Number Of Infrastructure Trouble Spots In Virginia, HuffPost’s Tom Zeller, August 23, 2011:

The American Society for Civil Engineers’ most recent “report card” on national infrastructure lists a number of trouble spots in Virginia — including 143 “high-hazard” dams, one of which sits on Lake Anna near the North Anna nuclear power plant.

“A high hazard dam is defined as a dam whose failure would cause a loss of life and significant property damage,” the group notes on its website.

See also: CBS Affiliate: Water level drop of 20+ inches in a day in lake used by reactors have many near quake-hit Virginia nuke plant concerned — Dam problem?

h/t Beyond Nuclear

Published: August 25th, 2011 at 5:34 pm ET


Related Posts

  1. Containment structure to be checked for possible quake damage at Virginia nuke plant — Reactors must attain cold shutdown before inspections begin August 25, 2011
  2. CBS Affiliate: Water level drop of 20+ inches in a day in lake used by reactors have many near quake-hit Virginia nuke plant concerned — Dam problem? August 25, 2011
  3. Company admits Virginia nuke plant only designed to withstand a magnitude 5.9 – 6.1 earthquake — Today’s quake was 5.9 August 23, 2011
  4. “Quake sensors removed around Virginia nuke plant due to budget cuts” — Spokesman: We’re still evaluating “all of the instrumentation that’s at North Anna” to determine forces reactors dealt with August 24, 2011
  5. Strange: Spokesman says workers at Virginia nuke plant were preparing to manually shut down reactors after quake when system went into automatic shut down — Another spokesman says “it was a manual shutdown” August 23, 2011

20 comments to Dam at Virginia nuke plant inspected for damage after quake — Engineering experts had classified it as “high-hazard”

  • ALDIAli

    ill change to Wind energy ASAP and ill try to convince my friends. this stuff is not supposed to be.
    better get rid of it as long as we can

  • ‘High Hazard’ is a term used by Civil Engineers NOT Nuclear Engineers.

    Water levels have dropped almost 2 feet is what the other story says. Probably more by now.

    Maybe the darn dam has sprung a leak? 🙁

    I would ‘hazard’ a guess that the NRC will say something like this….

    I am sure that it’s ‘highly unlikely’ for there to be any ‘reason for concern’ as the overall ‘risk assessment’ is quite low.
    (I should work for the NRC) – lol

  • Discovery News 2010: San Andreas-like fault found in Northeastern U.S.

    For 30 years geologists have been puzzled by a remarkably straight magnetic line that runs between New York and Alabama along the Appalachians. A more recent aerial magnetic survey of the Alabama end of the line suggests that it’s probably a 500-million-year-old San Andreas-style fault that appears to have slipped 137 miles (220 kilometers) to the right in …

  • James2

    If the dam breaks, Washington DC is toast, and so is whatever is left of the US economy.

    Personally I would say that’s rather high risk.

  • jackassrig

    Where does the reactor get its cooling water? If from the lake, the water level may affect the cooling water intake to the pumps.

    • Flapdoodle Flapdoodle

      It gets it from the lake. North Anna is designed to put the cooling water back into the lake, and there was concern even before it went into operation it would raise the lake water temperature. (well, obviously)

      But if they are dealing with contaminated water, they supposed to treat it before dumping it back. That might explain the water level drop.

  • Flapdoodle Flapdoodle

    Now that external power has been restored, can we assume that the steam venting on the one reactor has stopped? Do any of you have a way to check?

  • Unless the earthquake has put a crack in the lake and it is draining, how much lower by this afternoon ?
    This is something that needs to be looked into, is that dam that is being checked have anything to do with the water level there ?
    So much to watch after a major quake for it changes the landscape other then just move bricks !

    • If the water keeps dropping, how would the cool the reactors and pools if no water ?

      • Flapdoodle Flapdoodle

        Oh, that is when they bring in the helicopters to make a token water drop.

        Seriously, though… No water, no cooling. They inspected the dam and said it was okay. I am concerned there might be damage that has not been detected. With the hurricane imminent, a lot of water could be added putting stress on the dam. But perhaps my concern is unfounded. After Fuku, I expect the worst.

      • Sickputer

        Paul Gunter on RT had some good points about the needs of water for a shutdown reactor (with cooling pipes intact) is way below the working reactor and it just has to get it through about 6 months and then it gets to a much safer decay heat.

        So barring damage to the heat exchange pipes they should be able to get the plant headed for mothballs even if the lake dam does collapse.

        In addition, I would bet the farm the nuclear plant industry in America will do much better with this plant being so close to Washington, DC even if Irene or earthquakes or anything makes the plant a runaway.

        I bet Fukushima repair efforts would have been handled WAY differently if it had been 20 miles from Tokyo instead of 150 miles. It’s all in priorities…

    • Steven Steven

      Where’s our resident ‘lake-earthquake’ expert when you need him? I think he was posting from India or thereabouts?

  • Jebus Jebus

    I’ve been doing a little history homework on the North Anna Nuke Plant.
    Here’s what I found…

    It seems that in 2000 there was a plan, no not Al Gores I have a plan, to start using MOX fuel in US

    You remember MOX fuel don’t ya? Guess who was on the list of six reactors for this dimwitted idea?

    YUP, North Anna. A very interesting read here…



    And here is a good read on the public health exposures of MOX fuel



    But in a tiny defence of Dominion and for the sake of a couple million lives of our revered

    governments hallowed grounds, it seems that the deal fell through for financial reasons.
    Go figure…


    Edwin S. Lyman
    Nuclear Control Institute
    February 22, 2002

    Before Dominion Resources removed its North Anna 1&2 reactors from the plutonium disposition program

    in April 2000, the maximum estimated throughput for all six reactors was about 2.9 MT per year, and

    13 years would required to irradiate 34 MT, beginning in 2007 and ending in 2020, according to a

    2000 report.[1] Under the new program, batch delivery of fuel to reactors is scheduled to begin in

    Fall 2008, and the program is slated for completion in 2019 (11 years duration). Thus at least seven

    reactors — three more than the number currently under contract — would be required to dispose of

    34 MT over the shorter time period. More realistically, the start of the program will be further

    delayed as a result of the changes to the MOX fabrication plant design that are necessary to purify

    the plutonium feedstock that was originally slated for immobilization, so completion by 2019 would

    likely require yet another reactor.


    Local take on this…

    Virginia utility abandons MOX project

    By Staff Writer

    A Virginia utility company has abandoned an agreement to use a controversial nuclear-reactor fuel

    that would be produced at Savannah River Site.

    Virginia Power decided this week to leave its contract with Duke COGEMA Stone & Webster LLC, said Jim

    Norvelle, a spokesman for the utility.

    Virginia Power had a contract with Duke COGEMA to use mixed-oxide, or MOX, fuel in its North Anna

    nuclear power plant in Virginia.


    And the complete, (incomplete?), US MOX History….

    Steven Dolley
    Nuclear Control Institute October 2000


    A fun site…


    Some North Anna Info on the SFP Storage there…



    another fun site…


    Then the need for “mo power scotty” overcame Dominion again…
    You will note that this doc is for a POWER UPRATE at PRAIRIE ISLAND NUCLEAR GENERATING PLANT, UNITS 1

    AND 2.
    But if you look down in the doc you will see this:

    The NRC has recently issued similar MUR-PU license amendments for Vogtle Electric Generating Plant,

    Units 1 & 2 on February 27,2008 (ADAMS Accession No. ML080350347), Cooper Nuclear Station on June 30,

    2008 (ADAMS Accession No. ML081540280), Davis-Besse Nuclear Power Station, Unit 1 on June 30, 2008

    (ADAMS Accession No. ML081410652), Calvert Cliffs Nuclear Power Plant on July 22, 2009 (ADAMS

    Accession No. ML091820366), and North Anna Power Station on October 22, 2009 (ADAMS Accession No.


    And less? significant this…

    The licensee indicated that the CHECWORKS models will be revised to include the changes in moisture

    carryover, temperature, pressure and flowrate, as a result of the MUR-PU implementation. In addition,

    it was stated that the results of the upgrade models will be factored into future surveillance and

    piping repair plans, as applicable. The NRC staff finds this acceptable. The staff also reviewed the

    licensee’s evaluation and confirmed that the applicable regulatory guidance was followed.
    The NRC staff has also verified the calculations in the application. The licensee has demonstrated

    that the FAC program is adequate for managing the potential effects on the piping components

    susceptible to FAC. The staff’s acceptance of the licensee’s use of CHECWORKS can be found in

    NUREG-1766, “Safety Evaluation Report Related to the License Renewal of North Anna Power Station,

    Units 1 and 2, and Surry Power Station, Units 1 and 2,” December 2002. The NRC staff concludes that

    the FAC program is adequate in predicting the rate of material loss.


    Continued in next post because of link count moderation…

    • Jebus Jebus

      HUH! I want to see ADAMS Accession No. ML092260616. A search ensued back to:


      Thinking I would have something, I drilled down to:


      Something wasn’t right. That document is strangely missing…

      12/2/2010 8:07 AM 261695 ML092260586.pdf
      12/2/2010 8:07 AM 96185 ML092260587.pdf
      12/2/2010 8:07 AM 108352 ML092260588.pdf
      12/2/2010 8:07 AM 164834 ML092260589.pdf
      12/2/2010 8:07 AM 442017 ML092260590.pdf
      12/2/2010 8:07 AM 3102146 ML092260591.pdf
      12/2/2010 8:07 AM 68211 ML092260596.pdf
      12/2/2010 8:07 AM 309497 ML092260599.pdf
      12/2/2010 8:07 AM 3801204 ML092260601.pdf
      12/2/2010 8:07 AM 88877 ML092260605.pdf
      12/2/2010 8:07 AM 158941 ML092260607.pdf
      12/2/2010 8:07 AM 336064 ML092260614.pdf
      12/2/2010 8:07 AM 164597 ML092260618.pdf
      12/2/2010 8:07 AM 78569 ML092260621.pdf
      12/2/2010 8:07 AM 101878 ML092260622.pdf
      12/2/2010 8:07 AM 381371 ML092260623.pdf
      12/2/2010 8:07 AM 3761701 ML092260626.pdf
      12/2/2010 8:07 AM 3722694 ML092260629.pdf
      12/2/2010 8:07 AM 2371096 ML092260631.pdf


      Dissapointed I kept at it, Never give up, Never give in…
      Works for me..
      Seems that there was a request to up the working pressure at North Anna from 1495 to 2425 psia

      1 AND 2, DOCKET No. 50-338 AND 50-339
      1. WCAP-15025PA, DOM-NAF-2
      Table 4-1 of WCAP-15025PA indicates that the applicable range of pressure for WRB-2M is 1495 to
      2425 psia, and Table 1 of Safety Evaluation for Appendix C to DOM-NAF-2 indicate that the
      applicable range of pressure for WRB-2M is 1405 to 2425 psia. Please make sure that the correct
      pressure range for applicability of WRB-2M correlation is 1495 to 2425 psia.


      What? Why?
      Well if you drop down in the doc below to:

      Virginia Electric and Power Company, Docket Nos. 50-338 and 50-339, North Anna Power Station, Unit 1

      and 2, Louisa County, Virginia

      Approval of the proposed changes will allow Dominion to use the VIPRE [Versatile Internals and

      Components Program for Reactors—EPRI]-DIWRB-2M and VIPRE-DIW-3 code/correlation pairs to perform

      licensing calculations of Westinghouse RFA-2 fuel in North Anna Cores, using the DDLs [deterministic

      design limits] documented in Appendix C of the DOM-NAF-2-A Fleet Report and the SDL [statistical

      design limit] documented herein. Neither the code/correlation pair nor the Statistical Departure from

      Nucleate Boiling Ratio (DNBR) Evaluation Methodology affect accident initiators and thus cannot

      increase the probability of any accident. Further, since both the deterministic and statistical DNBR

      limits meet the required design basis of avoiding Departure from Nucleate Boiling (DNB) with 95%

      probability at a 95% confidence level, the use of the new code/correlation and Statistical DNBR

      Evaluation Methodology do not increase the potential consequences of any accident. Finally, the full

      core DNB design limit provides increased assurance that the consequences of a postulated accident

      which includes radioactive release would be minimized because the overall number of rods in DNB would

      not exceed the 0.1% level. The pertinent evaluations to be performed as part of the cycle specific

      reload safety analysis to confirm that the existing safety analyses remain applicable have been

      performed and determined to be acceptable. The use of a different code/correlation pair will not

      increase the probability of an accident because plant systems will not be operated in a different

      manner, and system interfaces will not change. The use of the VIPRE-DIWRB-2M and VIPRE-DIW-3

      code/correlation pairs to perform licensing calculations of Westinghouse RFA-2 fuel in North Anna

      cores will not result in a measurable impact on normal operating plant releases and will not increase

      the predicted radiological consequences of accidents postulated in the UFSAR [Updated Final Safety

      Analysis Report].

      You will see that they want to use a new fuel. Kind of a minor change in fuels, right?
      After all newer is better, Right?
      Doesn’t explain the pressure change request above though…



      Well, there must be an explanation somewhere…
      Maybe here is!
      Seems they went to a higher enrichment of fuel in 2001 after dropping out of the MOX project.

      Virginia Electric and Power Company; North Anna Power Station, Units 1 and 2; Environmental

      Assessment and Finding of No Significant Impact

      Environmental Assessment Back to Top
      Identification of the Proposed Action

      The proposed action would increase the limit on the fuel enrichment from the current limit of 4.3

      weight percent U 235 to a maximum of 4.6 weight percent U 235, establish boron concentration and fuel

      storage restrictions for the Spent Fuel Pool (SFP), and eliminate the value of uncertainties in the

      calculation for K eff in the SFP criticality calculation. The proposed action is in accordance with

      the licensee’s application for amendments dated September 27, 2000, as supplemented November 21 and

      December 18, 2000, and February 2, and March 2, 2001.



      What does this mean?
      We may not ever know unless someone can come up with the last fuel cycle document, and

      ML092260616.pdf, which is the pressure increase doc.

      North Anna’s next fuel cycle, assuming it’s still there then, is in 2012 for unit 1 and 2013 for

      unit 2.

      My observation as to what all this means is that, they are dealing with at least one uranium enriched

      souped up high pressure reactor after the earthquake and it is going to take a lot of Lake Anna to

      get this monster cooled down.


  • jackassrig

    I wonder if the earth has opened up and the water is draining into a fissure?

  • What it is like inside the control room when a earthquake hits !

    VIDEO: Inside North Anna Nuclear Station

    Aug 25, 2011
    CNN did a piece on the North Anna nuclear station yesterday. According to the plant manager’s statements the earthquake did not trip the reactors. The plant …

    Looking closely at the footage, you can see a crack across a sidewalk and at first and end, can see it going across the grassy area also ! There too looking at this shot of the plant in last footage one can see the bank of the lake that is near the reactor building, it appears that this are may have been built on fill !!!!