Power loss explained at Virginia nuke plant as hurricane sends east coast atomic stations scrambling to maintain their own
Tuesday's 5.8 magnitude earthquake that that jolted the east coast and shut down Virginia’s North Anna nuclear power plant was strong enough to shake small protective devices that caused the station’s shutdown, spokesmen for its parent company said.
Meanwhile, several nuclear power plants along the US eastern seaboard are bracing for the landfall of Hurricane Irene, a level 3 storm with winds of up to 185 kilometres per hour. Irene is the first Hurricane to hit the US east coast since Hurricane Ike in 2008 and is expected to run a similar course to Hurricane Gloria in 1985.
The redoubled pressure of inclement weather and no offsite power on the North Anna prompted Vladimir Slivyak, co-chair of Russia’s Ecodefence!, an anti-nuclear group, to question what is enough to protect nuclear plants against the elements – which, thanks to the ongoing disaster at Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi, ranks as one of the most important environmental questions of 2011.
“Nuclear power plants can often manage one – even a very tough – single event,” he said in an email interview. “But when it comes to a situation where several events are happening at the same time, it becomes very hard to manage – there is no ideal reactor that can sustain everything and there is no system that can predict everything.”
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