No timetable to restart North Anna nuclear reactors

MINERAL, VA (WWBT) – The North Anna nuclear plant will remain shut down, and there's no telling precisely when the reactors will be re-started. This, as nuclear authorities get grilled by the public on issues resulting from the August earthquake.

The epicenter of that 5.8 magnitude quake was located in Mineral just 12 miles from the plant. The quake prompted an automatic shutdown which remains in effect, though many of the folks who attended a public hearing Monday want to know if the reactors should ever be turned on again.

There were already lights and the action was all but guaranteed.

"We're in unchartered territory here," said one person.

"All we're asking is you apply the same level of inspection to both units!" exclaimed another.

"How do we trust the NRC?"questioned yet another person.

For the first time, the public went face to face with Dominion, which owns the North Anna plant, and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, which is inspecting it. The NRC revealed no new information, but instead reiterated earlier findings.

"The earthquake activity exceeded levels for which the plant was originally licensed," said Greg Kolcum of the NRC.

Authorities, also, said they found no significant damage from the August 23rd quake, but the plant remains on automatic shutdown.

"The plant won't be allowed to start up unless we believe it's safe to do so," said Eric Leeds of the NRC.

In case of a future earthquake, members of the public suggested the plant's safety measures be strengthened. But some, like Jim Adams, left unsatisfied.

"Yeah, I'm somewhat frustrated. They are very good at answering a little off to the side and giving non-answers," said Adams, who belongs to the organization, "Not On Our Fault Line".

Others, like Richard Blanton, said it's a long, but productive process.

"Just satisfied myself that they're taking it really seriously," Blanton said.

Still, no major decisions Monday, and no timetable for the reactors to re-start.

"We will not restart the station until we are convinced that North Anna can operate as safely as it has," said David Heacock, Dominion's Chief Nuclear Officer.

Post-earthquake inspections will continue at the plant for at least two more weeks, and there's another meeting later this month at which point the NRC will reveal its latest findings.

The NRC said there are seven unresolved issues mostly cosmetic in nature. North Anna authorities insisted again the August earthquake posed no risk to public safety.

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