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Earthquake caused massive nuclear storage casks to move
ast week's central Virginia earthquake caused 25 spent-fuel storage casks — each weighing 115 tons — to move on their concrete pad at Dominion Virginia Power's North Anna nuclear power plant.
The shifting of these massive casks holding used nuclear fuel was the first caused by an earthquake in the U.S., according to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
None of the metal cylinders was damaged and no radiation was released, Dominion Virginia Power said.
Like hockey pucks on a jostled tray, the 16-foot tall casks shifted from an inch to 4½ inches, utility company spokesman Rick Zuercher said.
"They just moved because of the vibration," Zuercher said. "They remained upright and fully intact."
Federal regulators will examine data from the spent-fuel storage area as part of the inspection of the plant that the NRC began Tuesday, said Scott Burnell, a spokesman with the federal agency's headquarters in Rockville, Md.
"The information available indicates the shifting did not affect safety in any way," Burnell said. "It is an instance of an event we had not previously seen, so were trying to learn as much as possible."