Bloomberg News

North Anna Reactors Ready for Use, Dominion’s Heacock Says

October 21, 2011

(Updates with planned public meeting in seventh paragraph.)

Oct. 21 (Bloomberg) -- Reactors at Dominion Resources Inc.’s North Anna nuclear plant in Virginia, which have been shut since an Aug. 23 earthquake, are ready to resume operations, a company executive said.

“We have demonstrated our units are ready to restart,” David Heacock, president and chief nuclear officer of Dominion Nuclear, told the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission during a meeting at the agency’s Rockville, Maryland headquarters.

Dominion, owner of Virginia’s largest utility, has spent about $21 million on examinations and analysis since the temblor, with an epicenter about 11 miles (18 kilometers) from the power plant, the Richmond-based company said today in a statement.

Neither the NRC nor Dominion has said when the plant, which can generate enough electricity for about 450,000 homes, will actually resume operations. The company has agreed to perform additional seismic studies after the reactors are working again.

Ground shaking during the 5.8-magnitude earthquake exceeded North Anna’s design limits. The 33-year-old plant’s two reactors did not sustain significant damage during the earthquake, the company said in its statement.

Dominion’s shares rose 1.7 percent to $51.87 at 12:03 p.m. in New York.

Public Meeting

The NRC plans to hold a public meeting near the power plant on Nov. 1, Eric Leeds, director of the agency’s Office of Nuclear Reactor Regulation, told commissioners today. NRC and Dominion officials already met with neighbors at the North Anna facility on Oct. 3.

The agency sent an eight-member inspection team to the plant after the quake. The group discussed findings with North Anna’s managers and some inspectors remain at the site, Joey Ledford, a spokesman for the commission’s Atlanta field office, said in a telephone interview today.

The NRC “will not authorize restart until we are satisfied” that the plant can operate without jeopardizing public health and safety, Bill Borchardt, the agency’s executive director for operations, said at today’s meeting with Dominion officials.

North Anna’s shutdown has highlighted a separate NRC review of earthquake risks at U.S. nuclear plants. Seismic hazards for some nuclear plants in the eastern and central U.S. may be greater than anticipated, the agency has said.

The agency said yesterday it has directed its staff to begin implementing recommendations from a task force report to improve safety at U.S. plants, including reviews of seismic and flooding hazards. The task force report was triggered by meltdowns and radiation leaks at Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima Dai-Ichi plant, caused by an earthquake and tsunami in March.

--Editors: Judy Pasternak, Bob Brennan

To contact the reporters on this story: Brian Wingfield in Washington at bwingfield3@bloomberg.net; Julie Johnsson in Chicago at jjohnsson@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Larry Liebert at lliebert@bloomberg.net


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