“Reactors themselves seem to have undergone changes that caused automatic systems to shut them” -North Anna Official

Published: September 8th, 2011 at 12:59 pm ET


When an Earthquake Shuts a Reactor, New York Times blog by Matthew L. Wald, September 8, 2011:

[…] So while an interruption of power from the transformer would have shut down the [North Anna nuclear] plant, this now appears not to have been the first event in the sequence.

Rather, the reactors themselves seem to have undergone changes that caused automatic systems to shut them, [Eugene S. Grecheck, Dominion’s vice president for nuclear development] said. […]

In the reactor, a uranium atom splits, giving off neutrons […] Water is crucial to this process because it slows down the neutrons […]

Because the earthquake moved the water in the reactors, the sensors indicated that the neutron population there was no longer distributed properly, and the system called for the automatic shutdown […]

Published: September 8th, 2011 at 12:59 pm ET


Related Posts

  1. Officials change story about why North Anna reactors went into automatic shut down after quake — “There were multiple trip signals coming in” September 4, 2011
  2. 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
  3. Reuters: It now appears quake caused problem inside both reactor cores at North Anna, triggering shutdown -Officials September 9, 2011
  4. Confirmed: Virginia nuke plant went into automatic shutdown after quake — Shaking interrupted circuits causing loss of power to cooling systems August 25, 2011
  5. U.S. Nuclear News Roundup: Ft. Calhoun close to shut down — Falsified tests in NY — North Anna restart to take months? — Leak in CT September 9, 2011

35 comments to “Reactors themselves seem to have undergone changes that caused automatic systems to shut them” -North Anna Official

  • Sickputer

    Yeah…a lot of doubletalk…nothing about why they removed the modern earthquake sensors because they were too expensive to maintain. Cost cutting features…a sign of the economic times and deadly when toxins are involved.

    • theypoisonus

      Hay Sickputer,

      My first thought, OH MY GOSH.. the reactors now have a mind of their own !!! 🙂

      Just found this article on Energy and the author is doing a series she comments in reply to a poster. Hopefully , if we keep an eye out, it will get to Nuclear, she seems quite thorough in her research.

      Pretty intersting and Mind Opening on how regulation is done, or NOT done, etc.

      Also in comments, someone speaks of fracking close to Virginia, and there the author states her continuing articles.

      If anyone lives in TX. they definately need to read this article, but it is also quite informative in other areas concerning the Cheney link with regulation.


      Peace ya’ll,

    • Mack Mack

      Passing along a blog on the NRC/North Anna meeting on Sept 8th:

      “North Anna NRC Meeting Summary: I Would NOT Want to Live Near North Anna”


      • Mack Mack

        Plus I was just checking enformable.com, Lucas W. Hixson’s site, and saw a comment from him saying he has video of the meeting which he’ll be putting up today. I hope he doesn’t mind me quoting him—->He said “it was a very interesting meeting to say the least.”

        So, keep checking for it @ http://www.enformable.com

        IMO, that is a great site. He is really on top of things.

        • jec jec

          Good comments. A few additions..first INSURANCE-thats covered mostly by the US Government. VEPCO only needs approx 300M per plant, US does the rest. Picture the remembursements done by Japan for Fusushima..also, THE QUAKE SENSORS at the plant, US goverment removed sensors to save money in the 1990s. So exact figures are not really possible. On ground water contamination. Local Water districts DO NOT TEST for radiation in the drinking water, at lease Isle of Wight, near Surry Power Plant does not. Surry is the plant that had “pipe” leaking “material” into the ground. Just a little.

  • lam335 lam335

    The U.S has been nothing but supremely lucky. Three MIle Island could have been a Chernobyl and North Anna could have been a Fukushima. Thus far, we have dodged calamity by sheer good luck or the grace of God, but not because of any superior technology, diligence, or competence. Unfortunately, we cannot count on such good fortune forever. The more plants that we have, the more spent fuel that we store, and the older our facilities become, the greater the odds that our luck will run out. We’ve had a couple of near misses . . . we are bound, I fear sooner rather than later, to suffer a direct hit.

  • odiez1 odiez1

    I’ll wager that something shifted inside the containment vessel causing the spacing of all the parts inside (fuel, rods, water, moving parts) to go out of whack. Then the neutrons when different places, probably condensed in one area and thinned out in another.

    • Cindy

      I’m sure you’ve got it right exactly !!..This is similar to what I was thinking…

    • Steven Steven

      Makes more sense than the official analysis odiez1. The coolant (water) would be on the move constantly, else it wouldn’t be doing much cooling. Add to that, neutrons move pretty fast so moving the water about would affect that process about as much as a gentle breeze affects bullets, I would have thought.

  • bleep_hits_blades


    We HAVE had a direct hit. Just look at the dispersal imaging from Fukushima…

    • lam335 lam335

      I mean an explosion or other catastrophic release in our own country. My hometown (near Philadelphia) is ninety miles east of Three MIle Island. When I read about the high levels of contaminants spreading all the way to Tokyo, I am struck by the fact that Philadelphia is MUCH closer to TMI than Tokyo is to Fukushima. What is happening all over Japan could have happened all over Pennsylvania, Delaware, New Jersey–Indeed, it DID happen to some of the local farming communities right in TMI’s vicinity, but it could have been much, much worse–I have heard that there were fears at the time that there might be a big hydrogen explosion. That would have been Chernobyl. The entire east coast would have been lin the condition of Honshu today.

      Yes, the contamination our country is receiving now, especially (but not only) on the West Coast, is bad and upsetting, but if something happens right on our own soil, it will be exponentially WORSE (and our government will handled it just as badly/dishonestly). My purpose is not to downplay what Fukushima is doing to us, but to stress the grave dangers of it happening 6000 miles closer to home.

  • bleep_hits_blades

    @ Iam

    THIS is ‘supremely lucky’ ?

    • lam335 lam335

      I’m speaking about the reactors operating in our own country. It is sheer luck that has spared us from a disaster equivalent to Fukushima/Chernobyl in our own power plants. My point is that our plants are just as old, our regulators just as lax/corrupt, and our operators just as apt to cut corners and slack on safety. There is no reason but LUCK that an equally catastrophic event has not yet happened on our own soil.

      • Lil

        or God’s Hand giving us more time… Please help with stopping relicensing for CA Nuke Plants! I have been getting some good results against Nuclear on twitter with some RT’s.

        CA Nuclear meltdown would ruin all US due to winds! CA nuclear plants soon up for relicensing. http://taxdollars.ocregister.com/2011/09/02/quakes-pose-greater-risk-to-u-s-nuclear-reactors/96033/

        • lam335 lam335

          It’s not just California plants. Limerick power plant in PA just applied for re-licensure this summer. North Anna was # 7 on the list of most earthquake-prone reactors, but Limerick is # 3 on that same list.

      • moonshellblue moonshellblue

        Yes, we have been lucky. I live about 30 miles west of TMI and I remember how many people fled the area and really wanted to leave but could not. Anyway, you’re right it’s just a matter of time. They should start to shut these BWR’s down especially the older ones. Clean energy? I don’t think so.

    • alasanon

      Yes, in terms of domestic accidents! We have many more nukers than Japan… We seem like a loaded weapon on a suicide mission…which hasn’t been fully executed, just yet.

      The statistical probability that North Anna would emerge intact after being at such an anomalous, record earthquake epicenter is very remote!… Simply Miraculous.

      And with the follow-up Hurricane, the fallout could have wasted the whole East Coast.
      It’s a wake-up call..on many levels!

      • alasanon

        I guess you have to be here! 😉
        We have been getting whipped down here.

        I just hope this minor fault line stays true to its once in over a century time frame.

        And they should close down the plant for good long before then!

      • lam335 lam335

        And remember that we have much, much more spent fuel crammed into our SF pools than they did at Fukushima.

      • StPaulScout StPaulScout

        It’s a wake up call to deaf people…..

  • James2

    Is that code for “meltdown”.

  • dpl dpl

    The shelf life of any given species living in the path of our power of destruction can safely be assumed to be zero. Mother nature it seems will test out ability to survive on a planet that becomes as hostile to us as we have become to it. Our life as a parasite can only continue as usual as long as the host defenses allow it.

  • StPaulScout StPaulScout

    “Because the earthquake moved the water in the reactors, the sensors indicated that the neutron population there was no longer distributed properly, and the system called for the automatic shutdown […]”

    You can bet it was way more than just some water sloshing around. Something moved too close to something else and stayed there. Maybe a rod failed? Without knowing the state of the reactor currently it is difficult to do anything but speculate.

    • James2

      I love that – “the neutron population there was no longer distributed properly”.

      If I’m not mistaken the laws of physics determine how the neutron population is distributed. The only thing they can be talking about is they had a runaway reaction going on and the plant shut itself down.

      This, by the way is exactly what happened at Chernobyl.

      This is the ultimate in technobabble designed to hide the fact that they narrowly averted melting down the plant and destroying Washington DC.

  • WindorSolarPlease

    Is this by any plants?

    News 10 Flooding… People evacuated


  • James2

    So what do floods have to do with Nuke plant meltdowns?

    Nothing? – I thought so.

  • James Tekton James Tekton

    Will we ever really know what the truth is when all that really matters is that we are really getting pelted with higher radiation and no one gives a fish?

    Please excuse, but this is a right now event and may it please be heard and shared right now as it just started.

    A memorial to the Liberty:




    AND vote for Ron Paul on this poll now too:


  • xstatic

    where are the radiation charts for the surrounding area? just to be sure ….

  • xstatic

    sorry to double post,does anyone know the average around d.c.? it seems to be the highest around the country right now. @ 45