Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Did we almost lose Charlottesville?

Has any of the promoters or defenders of nuclear power considered how the nuclear plants in the United states are on or close to seismic (earthquake) zones or fault lines?

With the 2011 Virginia earthquake today one might argue that we came close to losing Charlottesville.

Consider the nuclear power plants and the earthquake activity in the area, just in the years since these plants were operational in the 1970s. As I blogged earlier today in part of a post:
Wonder how people in the Maryland/DC/Virginia area feel about the relatively old nuclear power plants in eastern Virginia and southern Maryland: Calvert Cliffs (operative since 1975) in Maryland on the Chesapeake Bay, North Anna Nuclear Generating Station (just 11 miles from the earthquake epicenter, and operative since 1978), near Charlottesville, Virginia and Surry Nuclear Power Plant (operative since 1972) in the Norfolk/Virginia Beach, Virginia vicinity.

The wikipedia article for the Virginia Seismic Zone reports that there have been several quakes in the past decade in the area, albeit with mild readings, around 3.6. Just over the Potomac River lies the site of the 2010 Germantown, Maryland earthquake (the Potomac-Shenandoah Earthquake, as labeled by Wikipedia), 3.6 on the Richter Scale. The North Anna plant is sited precisely in the Virginia Seismic Zone.

Another site to note: Andrew Schenkel, "Nuclear power and earthquake zones overlap in the U.S.: Earthquake in Japan raises concerns about what could happen in the U.S." in Mother Nature News, March 11, 2011.

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