Building a Nuclear Power Plant on a Fault Still Not a Great Idea
A DOJ memo from 1977 indicates that the owner of North Anna plant concealed earthquake concerns.
When the East Coast was rocked by an earthquake this summer, there was a momentary bout of concern about a Virginia nuclear power plant that sat right on the fault line. The 5.8 quake was stronger than what the North Anna plant was designed to withstand, and the reactors had to be shut down. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission is still in the process of deciding whether they should be turned back on.
The watchdogs at the Project on Government Oversight are asking NRC Chairman Gregory Jaczko to release records related to the plant before a decision about reopening it is made. The group has requested records from plant owner Dominion, but were told that a lot of those records are sealed and housed at the University of Virginia's library. POGO included with itsb letter a 34-year-old memo from the Department of Justice that indicates that the plant's original owners knew that they were building it on a fault line as far back as 1970, but hid that from regulators at the time.
The memo, from May 1977, was the conclusion of an investigation into whether criminal charges should be brought against VEPCO for concealing this info. It notes that the plant's original owner, Virginia Electric Power Company, along with engineering contractors the company hired, tried to cover up the fact that a fault had been found under the site in 1970. The company had already invested $730 million in the plant, and didn't want the plant's ability to get a license to operate compromised. From the memo: