October 21, 2011 / 2:15 PM / 8 years ago

Dominion says Va. North Anna nuke ready to return

* North Anna reactors shut after earthquake in August

* NRC must grant permission before North Anna returns

Oct 21 (Reuters) - Virginia based power company Dominion said Friday it was ready to restart the 1,806-megawatt North Anna nuclear power plant as soon as federal nuclear regulators grant permission.

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) is holding a meeting at its headquarters in Rockville, Maryland, on Friday to hear presentations from Dominion and NRC officials on what Dominion may still need to do before restarting the nuclear plant.

Both units at North Anna shut down automatically at 1:51 p.m. on Aug. 23 when an earthquake struck central Virginia. The epicenter was about 11 miles from the station and about four miles underground. Both units were at full power when the event occurred.

The NRC has so far been unwilling to allow the two North Anna reactors to restart without a thorough investigation so soon after the Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan.

In March, an earthquake and tsunami damaged the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, causing reactor fuel meltdowns and radiation releases.

Dominion said both North Anna units are ready to restart once the agency completes its independent review, analysis, and on-site inspections and grants permission.

“The lack of damage from the Aug. 23 earthquake clearly demonstrated that North Anna’s true seismic capability is greater than design basis of the station,” David Heacock, president and chief nuclear officer of Dominion, said in a release Friday.

“While the quake lasted about 25 seconds, only 3.1 seconds of intense motion occurred. The station could have withstood significantly more,” Heacock said.

At the NRC’s request, Dominion said it agreed to perform additional seismic analysis on certain components after restart to quantify and further demonstrate they can meet specific seismic requirements.

Dominion said it spent about $21 million on its inspection, testing and analysis program, including repairs, since the earthquake occurred.

Dominion has said the 903-MW North Anna Unit 1 has been ready to return to service since the end of September. Dominion conducted a planned refueling on the 903-MW North Anna Unit 2 during its downtime.

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