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Virginia earthquake shifted nuclear storage casks

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North Anna nuclear power plantThe Aug. 23 earthquake that rattled the East Coast apparently shifted massive storage casks containing spent nuclear fuel at the North Anna nuclear power plant in central Virginia.

None of the metal cylinders were damaged and no radiation was released, Dominion Virginia Power told the Virginia Times-Dispatch.

The casks each weigh 115 tons, and rest on concrete pads. A spokesman for the utility likened the situation to hockey pucks on a jostled tray, and said the 16-foot-tall casks shifted from about an inch to 4 1/2 inches. "They just moved because of the vibration," Rick Zuercher told the Richmond Times-Dispatch. "They remained upright and fully intact."

He added: "To date, there has been no significant earthquake-induced damage in safety-related structures or systems important to safety and shutdown cooling."

Officials from the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission will examine the seismic action as part of a plant inspection ordered in the wake of the quake. An NRC spokesman, Roger Hannah, told the L.A. Times that a public report on the inspection results can be expected in mid-to-late October. He added, however, that an initial review shows no damage.

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