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The Associated Press September 27, 2011, 4:17PM ET

Group protests nuke plant outside Dominion HQ

A group of residents from Louisa County is demanding that Dominion Resources Inc. ensure its North Anna nuclear power plant is safe from past and future earthquakes.

About 20 people from the group Not On Our Fault Line protested Tuesday outside Dominion's Richmond headquarters. They chanted and held signs reading "Shut Down or Meltdown," as Dominion employees went out for their lunch breaks.

The group says the Aug. 23 earthquake that shut down the plant brought attention to the danger of another event in the area. They are asking Dominion to retrofit the two reactors at the plant to higher earthquake safety standards. It also is asking for the company to inspect underground pipes at the nuclear facility to make sure they aren't leaking into the ground or drinking water.

"What we're afraid of is that Dominion is putting profits over the safety of the area," said Paxus Calta, a resident of Louisa County for 13 years. "This earthquake is a big wakeup call to us."

Dominion spokesman Rick Zuercher said the company did inspect some underground pipes that it thought would be most vulnerable to an earthquake as well as monitoring water wells in the area. Both of those checks don't indicate any leaks.

The company also says the reactors were designed to standards for California-style earthquakes.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has said preliminary data from the U.S. Geological Survey shows the quake caused peak ground movement about twice the level for which the plant northwest of Richmond was designed.

The plant is located about 11 miles from the quake's epicenter and has been shut down since the earthquake.

But NRC officials and Dominion said the plant did not appear to sustain serious damage.

The NRC has said it plans to order all U.S. plants later this year to update their earthquake risk analyses, a complex exercise that could take two years for some plants to complete. It says the two North Anna reactors are among 27 in the eastern and central U.S. that may need upgrades.

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