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Earthquake Highlights Vulnerabilities at U.S. Nuclear Plants

02 Sep 2011  |   Emma Brown

The risk of a serious accident at U.S. is greater than previously thought the Associated Press reports.

While reactors along the eastern coast were engineered to withstand minor earthquakes, the recent 5.8-magnitude quake that rocked the eastern U.S. was larger than typical for the region and highlighted major vulnerabilities in nuclear plant infrastructure.

Twenty-seven plants—including two North Anna reactors near Mineral, Virginia that lost power during the quake and shut down temporarily —may need updates to withstand stronger seismic vibrations a preliminary review by the National Regulatory Commission has concluded.

The NRC is moving towards addressing this issue, Chairman Gregory Jaczko said Thursday. “It's something we're working through, and I certainly expect that in some way, shape or form, that [some] plants will need to make modifications as a result,” he said.

While federal scientists revise seismic calculations every 5 - 6 years to ensure that building codes remain up to date, 102 of the nation’s 104 reactors currently have no similar review policies in place.

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