Quake over twice as strong as North Anna nuke plant’s containment structure was designed to withstand: Feds

Published: September 7th, 2011 at 9:11 pm ET


Quake’s jolts were double nuke plant’s design, USA Today by Wendy Koch, September 7, 2011:

The 5.8-magnitude earthquake last month in Virginia caused about twice as much ground shaking as a nearby nuclear power plant was designed to withstand, according to a preliminary federal analysis.

Parts of the North Anna Power Station in Mineral, Va., 11 miles from its epicenter, endured jolts equal to 26% of the force of gravity (0.26g) from some of the vibrations unleashed by the quake, said Scott Burnell, spokesman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

An NRC document says the reactors’ containment structure was built to withstand 12% of the force of gravity (0.12g.) […]

“It’s the things inside the buildings that may have been shaken more than the design called for,” Burnell said, adding the buildings themselves appear to have been less affected. […]

Published: September 7th, 2011 at 9:11 pm ET


Related Posts

  1. Experts concerned about North Anna: “Uncomfortably close” to maximum quake that nuke plant was designed to withstand August 24, 2011
  2. Strong aftershock jolts quake-hit Virginia reactors — Epicenter in same county as North Anna nuke plant September 1, 2011
  3. Feds question whether there was damage to fuel in reactors at quake-hit North Anna nuke plant — The answer may surprise you September 29, 2011
  4. 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
  5. NYT: North Anna nuke plant in situation that no US reactor has ever faced before — NRC has no protocol to see if design held up after quake September 8, 2011

60 comments to Quake over twice as strong as North Anna nuke plant’s containment structure was designed to withstand: Feds

  • Al-Chemisto

    ok..like…in a sane world someone “in charge” would say: “Like that was “an event” that you guys are underspec for. You are ordered to shutdown.”

    Likely? (rhetorical!) /max sarcasm/

  • lam335 lam335

    “It’s the things inside the buildings that may have been shaken more than the design called for,” … “the buildings themselves appear to have been less affected.”

    Which “inside” things, specifically, are they referring to? It’s the things inside a nuclear plant that make it dangerous, not the walls and floors and rooftop.

  • lam335 lam335

    If the design basis was 6.0 and the quake was 5.9, how could the force of the quake be two times what the building was designed to withstand???

    Math isn’t my strong suit, but that just doesn’t seem to add up.

    • SteveMT

      FYI refresher: Because of the logarithmic basis of the scale, each whole number increase in magnitude represents a tenfold increase in measured amplitude; as an estimate of energy, each whole number step in the magnitude scale corresponds to the release of about 31 times more energy than the amount associated with the preceding whole number value.


      • lam335 lam335

        But if the design basis was slightly higher than the quake force (6.0 > 5.9), the quake force shouldn’t be 2x what the plant was designed to withstand. It seems like there is a flaw in the design that makes it much less robust than it should be?

        • Dr. Anne Lee Tomlinson Maziar anne

          I think I read that the building wasn’t in such bad shape. But some of the components are. Too many times there are construction details which are built not up to standard. And then nuclear plants were never supposed to last more than 20 years. So the pipes corrode after a time and are not replaced. I don’t know the actual details.

          • lam335 lam335

            This is why they shouldn’t be allowed to re-license reactors beyond their originally intended life-span. I wish a law could be passed to prevent that, but GE, Exelon, etc., have too much influence with the man at the top (and probably many in the other party as well) to ever let that happen.

  • Beyond design basis events are occurring with greater frequency and are leading to extinction level events as the cumulative effects of modern civilization have crossed the benign margin of nature. If a coal fired station experiences a great earthquake nothing happens compared to the extinction level event that would easily occur if it were a nuke plant. The cumulative effects of dams are causing climate change and earthquakes throwing nuclear plants into chaotic situations. It is time to reengineer the way we live. See http://earthquakescausedbydams.blogspot.com and http://deathdealersnukes.blogspot.com and http://modernandnormal.blogspot.com and
    http://isothermal engines.blogspot.com
    For a slight shift in the way we live humanity should not lose out on its evolution.

  • socal stukncali

    is anyone surprised?

  • theypoisonus

    Not me. My ‘suprise meter’ got worn out over this long ago. 🙁

  • Three North Anna radiation clouds quietly raining on Washington’s Pennsylvania St, New York’s Wall Street and the Hamptons.

    red red wine

  • Darth

    The peak ground acceleration the plant was designed to withstand was 12% of gravity. Assuming a factor of 2 was used in as a safety margin on some aspects of the building it means it could withstand 24% gravity peak ground acceleration.

    These plants are not designed to withstand a certain magnitude earthquake. Earthquakes of the same magnitude can produce different peak ground accelerations – depending on ground composition and type of fault for example.

    The entire building and its infrastructure most likely has different harmonic vibration modes, like piping for example vs the containment building. Like this pipes could be damaged because they sway – act like violin strings. All these various factors make for a tough design environment. Would be interesting to see what the structural models included in their peak ground acceleration simulation.

  • dpl dpl

    Just like Fuku the story keeps changing.
    So when do they get to the part about the leak.
    Just a water leak or maybe a little fuel got
    damaged. All that steam venting while in cold shutdown mode after the rods dropped.
    We are still months away from the truth if ever.

  • Can someone help?


    This guy is in Japan and wants out. This is his message to us.

    • larry-andrew-nils

      i want to help right now.

      i live in dease lake.

      i can’t afford a plane ticket for a few months.

      can we pool it together?… he can stay upstairs.

      it’s because we are one, and if we die together we should be able to look each other in the eye after that… because our bodies die.

    • BreadAndButter BreadAndButter

      I’d be happy to donate for tickets or whatever necessary. Larry’s right, we are one. My email is b.wachhorst@web.de. Please keep us updated & thanks for your effort, cannonball! You’re a good one .

  • westcoastgirl westcoastgirl

    Australian Cannonball, do you have information about who this person is, where he (she)is, and have you communicated personally with them? Is it just one person or a family?

    Anyway, I would be happy to contribute a little for the plane ticket, if you have solid information about them and their situation.

    My email is naomi6265@gmail.com. I’d suggest reposting this, too, because htere are so many comment threads it’s easy to miss something…

  • westcoastgirl westcoastgirl

    And larry-andrew-nils…you have a heart of gold.

    • socal stukncali

      Hey westcoastgirl.. i was just wondering where do you live? I’m also on the west coast in southern cali

      • westcoastgirl westcoastgirl

        I am in northern, SF Bay Area. Too bad, if you were closer, I would want to try to organize with you, maybe a protest or something. You should see if there are any people in your area to do this with.

  • James2

    Al-Chemisto got it right.

    If the quake doubled the design spec for the nuke plant – then the plant must never be restarted – it simply must be scrapped.

    If you double the design spec on an airplane landing gear and it doesn’t break – then you scrap it.

    If you double the design spec on a motorcycle helmet, you scrap it.

    Somehow I figure they aren’t going to want to do this – but it is the only proper alternative. There is simply no way to guarantee any bit of structural integrity after that much of an overstress.

    • Darth

      Good point @James2 – appeals to the sane but we are dealing with the insane.

      I guess the third reactor they are breaking ground on building at this site as we speak will withstand higher peak accelerations. I suggest they try that which can be generated by the Madrid fault which was able to ring church bells in Boston in 1819. Wonder if these idiots would be able to back out the ground acceleration it took to make bells ring 1000 miles away.

  • lokay5 lokay5

    “It’s the things inside the buildings that may have been shaken more than the design called for,” Burnell said, adding the buildings themselves appear to have been less affected. ”

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but aren’t “the things inside the building” the things that ..oh…I dunno….keep the reactor from melting? ….HMmmm? And…uh…..Last time I checked, the reactor itself is “inside the building”……..

    • NoPrevarication NoPrevarication


      “.Last time I checked, the reactor itself is “inside the building”……..”

      Or maybe not. :>) Being facetious.

  • Jon_NY Jon_NY

    [ALERT] NRC To Hold September 8 Public Meeting On NORTH ANNA NUCLEAR

    Update: The DATA LEAK that sparked tomorrow’s unscheduled NORTH ANNA Nuclear plant NRC meeting- THE QUAKE EXCEEDED THE DESIGN BY 2X

    Anyone down wind, down stream, or living any where near the North Anna Nuclear Plant should do their utmost to physically attend TOMMORROW’s (Sept 8th) PUBLIC MEETING that the Nuclear Regulator Commission will hold with Dominion North Anna management.

    The extremely short meeting notice and the 2 1/2 hour drive required for North Anna residents to attend the meeting will make it difficult for local North Anna residents to attend and ask difficult questions (which likely won’t be allowed anyways). IT IS VITALLY IMPORTANT THAT NORTH ANNA RESIDENTS ATTEND; a lack of in-person public attendance equates to a lack of public accountability.

    The meeting will be held 1 – 5 p.m “Thursday, Sept. 8, in the Commissioners’ Conference Room on the first floor of the NRC’s One White Flint North building, at 11555 Rockville Pike in Rockville, Md”.

    What will NOT be discussed is:

    1.The detail criteria which would cause the NRC to decommission the North Anna Plant.
    2.The detail definition of “Normal Radioactive Releases”.
    3.The detail definition of abnormal radioactive releases.
    4.The current effective earthquake design limit of the Nuclear Plant at this instant in time.
    5.The current effective earthquake design limit of the entire site as a composite, Nuclear Plant and Lake Anna Dam (+ dikes) at this instant in time.
    6.How much lower Lake Anna levels could have dropped before impacting the safety of the plant.
    7.A detail definition (with criteria) of what “safety assured” means.
    8.Any explanation of how and why the public’s safety was put at risk by withholding information from the public until AFTER THE HURRICANE HAD PASSED that the plant’s earthquake design limits where exceeded.

    • James2

      People need to go to this meeting and simply document those who are there in a decision making capacity, and remind them that if true that the nuke plant received a 2x design jolt – then it cannot be restarted until it is fully redesigned and fully reconstructed.

      Also the Lake Anna Dam would have to be reconstructed to this level.

      That is the requirement of the 10CFR21 regulations – subject to felony convictions and civil penalties.

  • americancommntr

    It’s time for the owners of the nuclear industry to just throw the towel in on their bad investments.

    Can they or anyone imagine backup generators, or say, the fuel tanks for backup generators, even remaining in the upright position, for reactors in the New Madrid fault zone, in the event of another series of quakes like the 1811-1812 one.

    We are due for another series. When it happens a large part of the nation is going to be unlivable and unusable, forever.

  • Countdown to the next great or macjor quake started yesterday.For 9 Sep 2011 the quake counts against the times alongside are as under:
    All times utc
    172112 261
    172905. 260
    174111. 257
    181810. 254
    182910. 253
    Ref: map at earthquake@usgs.gov/earthquakes/recenteqsww/

  • 191244 number of quakes on map alluded to above 251
    Then a strong quake at Vancouver Isles Canada:
    6.7 MM. 2011/09/09 194135utc Lat 49.474 Long -126.974 Depth 25.9 km .
    The number of earthquakes on the map jumps to 274 and then at 200718 drops to 272.This is also in the Pacific Rim.

  • The number is going down with time indicating a stress build up in the rocks implying the coming peak magnitude quake in September. There is a decline from 233 to 207!

  • 11Sep2011 225559 utc quakes on map 203
    11 Sep 2011 233736 utc quake 6.0 MM,Lat -18.186 long 167.874 Depth 35.1 km
    It is a strong quake at Vanuatu in the Pacific Ring of Fire. More quakes and bigger are imminent in the Pacific Rim.

  • 12sep2011 184636utc number of earthquakes 195.countdown to big quake after 6 MM quake at Vanuatu continuing….the number of hotspots in the web fire mapper has suddenly increased to 35271on 12sep from about 26947 on 11sep. My surmise is the counts may go down till about 185 wh en the big one strikes.

  • Elenin Velikovsky Elenin Velikovsky

    Kumar, Thank You…
    What would be your thought about the proposed
    predictable planetary-Elenin-alignment stresses, on or
    before Seot. 25?
    The researcher giving his presentation of NASA data, on youtube,
    indicated the Known calculable gravity-electromagnetic
    interactions have known Moments, which instantly pass,
    but, for example, the 3/11 QUAKE, if that is what it truly was,
    (bearing in mind Rumors of intentional Attack as causation,
    not as only a natural quake) happened three days BEFORE the
    maximum-stress Moment.
    With all Blessings and Honor for your Work, Kumar!

  • Dear Elenin Velikovsky:
    How do these moments compare with the daily cumulative surges of dam contents of the world from say 2008 or earlier regarding significant correlations with seismic moment magnitudes of the earthquakes worldwide? See http://glaringlacuna.blogspot.com/ and all the URLs associated with dams at my complete profile there.
    Dams worldwide are imposing surges of forcing functions on the rocks causing earthquakes worldwide including as my data shows the Tohoku quake.
    I would be interested in your observations,
    With best regards to you,
    Ramaswami Kumar

    • Elenin Velikovsky Elenin Velikovsky

      Amazing Scholarship, Mr. Kumar
      I loved your electrical tree-fields.
      I hope everybody here has time to go read
      the WORK done at your website.
      I Need to Project in Prayer to Visualize and Create
      the Recovery you Propose in the Blessed Reforestation
      of our Planet, and manifest Hopefulness and
      the Devotion of, for example, Yogananda.
      I wish to eliminate the Combat Demons from my Soul.
      I wish I was being Useful toward Holy Spirit Will.
      Thank You again, Mr. K.
      I would be proud to serve in your Department,
      if I was even Worthy to be there!

  • We all that are in the universe are portions of The Lord and I bow to you in deep respect for recognizing this universal relationship. It is our duty to contribute to the good of all. Thus we may expect to merge with Ishwara and t
    be qualified for freedom. Thanks immensely for your discussion. By necessity at the dusk of Brahma’s night the universe will go into Ishwara and will remain for 4.32 billion years and the cycle will repeat for another day of Brahma. So it looks imminent the way things are trending.

  • Elenin Velikovsky Elenin Velikovsky

    Thank You!
    You Probably Know this man’s work?

    –Astronomical alignments as the cause of ~M6+ seismicity

    Mensur Omerbashich
    (Submitted on 11 Apr 2011 (v1), last revised 24 Aug 2011 (this version, v4))
    I here demonstrate empirically my georesonator concept in which tidally induced magnification of Earth masses’ resonance causes seismicity. To that end, I show that all strong (~M6+) earthquakes of 2010 occurred during the Earth’s long (t > 3 day) astronomical alignments within our solar system. I then show that the same holds true for all very strong (~M8+) earthquakes of the decade of 2000’s. Finally, the strongest (M8.6+) earthquakes of the past century are shown to have occurred during the Earth’s multiple long alignments, whereas half of the high-strongest (M9+) ones occurred during Full Moon. I used the comet C/2010 X1 (Elenin), as it has been adding to robustness in terms of very strong seismicity since 2007 (in terms of strongest seismicity: since 1965). The Elenin will continue intensifying the Earth’s very strong seismicity until August-October, 2011. Approximate forecast of earthquakes based on my discoveries is feasible. This demonstration proves my hyperresonator concept, arrived at earlier as a mathematical-physical solution to the most general extension of the georesonator concept possible.

    And Deep Bows from Me, Mr. K!
    Huggy wuggies for good Pubbies!

    • All these astronomical forces have existed before the dam era as well. During the dam era the dams have been causing earthquakes as my data bases show eloquently and if anything have triggered many more earthquakes over and above the hyper intensity periods of the astronomical forces. So on the tremendous juxtaposition of the man-made natural disasters and the forever existing astronomical forces there can be no reasonable doubt as my work incontrovertibly proves. This is obvious from http://earthquakescausedbydams.blogspot.com
      The glaring lacuna dear Elenin lies not in our stars but in not recognising the cumulative effects of modern civilization in the midst of hyperactivities of the universal forces.

  • 224613utc on 12sep 2011 number of quakes on USGS map is 191.
    At 224436utc on 12 Sep 2011 a 6.2 MM quake occurred at north coast of New Guinea PNG: -3.678,144.050,34.9km. Then the map showed 202 earthquakes at 230615. A big earthquake countdown continues…..

  • Elenin Velikovsky Elenin Velikovsky

    I had partially a Los Angeles childhood,
    and was blessed to body-surf occasionally.
    I had dreams of seeing waves coming OVER the
    coastal mountains, and huge winds blowing houses down,
    with huge crashing fireballs all around. Not a powerful
    memory affecting my life, really, but…
    Pacific Northwest tribes, in my foggy memory,
    knew better than to build lodges or houses with any
    heavy weight roof over the head. They had quakes
    all the time, and volcanoes before White-man days.
    SO NOW, we ought to expect the coming Quakes
    to shake down most of the cheaply-built American
    Frame houses, just Plywood, Studs and Headers and
    Plaster and Drywall, with insufficient structure to
    resist the shaking velocities.
    Many people will die crushed in their homes.
    It would be a Humble and Wise action to move
    outside! Move into a Tent, a TEEPEE America!
    ManyThanks! Blessings to Thee Prince Kumar!

  • StillJill StillJill

    Lost my Sioux style TeePee in my last ‘misadventure in the dark’,…but plan on a new one soon. There is positively NOTHING better than sleeping in a teepee with a roaring fire in the center. Even in the summer,….just a small one. The indigenous folks KNEW,…..a LOT more than I do! 🙂

    Thanks for the memory, “Man and teepee missing,…REWARD for TEEpEE”! 🙂

    • The tent! What a wonderful experience in the African wilderness! tents all round and a fire in the middle and African Masai tribesmen emoting drinks sitting around the fire. they were there to ward off the Hyenas and Jackals from entering our tents laughing! we enjoyed the starlit blue sky! After that experience we were to sleep in a hotel elsewhere for the next night. All the fun was totally lost- it was bland boring and colorless. We longed for tents ever after…

  • Emoting! What nonsensical unssolicited idiotic editing! I meant enjoying!

  • StillJill StillJill

    I knew what you meant. You tell a lovely memory–Yup,..you’ve felt the spiritual bliss of a tent/teepee! Was homeless once very briefly,…like 10 days,…spent them in my teepee. I never REALLY wanted to come out! 🙂

  • We can go on in perpetual bliss but for rain and Fkkushima and radiation down to earth! We one day will enter into the stillness of places like Japan…..