North Anna Nuclear Generating Station


North Anna Nuclear Generating Station
Photograph of North Anna Nuclear Power Plant
North Anna Nuclear Power Plant
Official nameNorth Anna Power Station
CountryUnited States
LocationLouisa County, near Mineral, Virginia
Coordinates38°3′38″N 77°47′22″W / 38.06056°N 77.78944°W / 38.06056; -77.78944Coordinates: 38°3′38″N 77°47′22″W / 38.06056°N 77.78944°W / 38.06056; -77.78944
Construction beganFebruary 19, 1971 (1971-02-19)
Commission dateUnit 1: June 6, 1978
Unit 2: December 14, 1980
Construction cost$3.861 billion (2007 USD)[1]
Owner(s)Dominion Virginia Power (88.4%),
Old Dominion Electric Cooperative (11.6%)
Operator(s)Dominion Energy
Nuclear power station
Reactor typePWR
Reactor supplierWestinghouse
Cooling sourceLake Anna, North Anna River
Thermal capacity2 × 2940 MWth
Power generation
Units operational1 × 948 MW
1 × 944 MW
Make and modelWH 3-loop (DRYSUB)
Units planned1 × 1535 MW ESBWR
Units cancelled2 × 907 MW B&W 145
Nameplate capacity1892 MW (current)
3427 MW (planned)
Capacity factor97.30% (2017)
83.50% (lifetime)
Annual net output16,126 GWh (2017)
External links
WebsiteNorth Anna Power Station
CommonsRelated media on Commons

The North Anna Nuclear Generating Station is a nuclear power plant on a 1,075-acre (435 ha) site in Louisa County, Virginia, in the Mid-Atlantic United States. The site is operated by Dominion Generation company and is jointly owned by the Dominion Virginia Power corporation (88.4%) and by the Old Dominion Electric Cooperative (11.6%).

The plant has two Westinghouse pressurized water reactors which went on-line in 1978 and 1980, respectively. Together the reactors generate 1.79 megawatts of power, which is distributed mainly to the greater Richmond area and to Northern Virginia. In March 2003, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission approved 20 year license extensions for both Units 1 & 2.[2]

An artificial lake, Lake Anna, was constructed on the North Anna River to provide a reservoir of water coolant for use with the nuclear plant.

Dominion currently owns nuclear power plants in Virginia (North Anna, Surry), Connecticut (Millstone), South Carolina (Virgil C. Summer Nuclear Generating Station), and Wisconsin (Kewaunee). North Anna is similar in design and appearance to Surry Power Station.

Surrounding population

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) defines two emergency planning zones around nuclear power plants: a plume exposure pathway zone with a radius of 10 miles (16 km), concerned primarily with exposure to, and inhalation of, airborne radioactive contamination, and an ingestion pathway zone of about 50 miles (80 km), concerned primarily with ingestion of food and liquid contaminated by radioactivity.[3]

The 2010 U.S. population within 10 miles (16 km) of North Anna was 21,396, an increase of 15.7 percent in a decade, according to an analysis of U.S. Census data for The 2010 U.S. population within 50 miles (80 km) was 1,912,015, an increase of 22.6 percent since 2000. Cities within 50 miles (80 km) include Richmond (40 miles (64 km) to city center).[4]

Unit 3

Dominion obtained regulatory permission from the NRC to build and operate an additional unit at the site in 2017. The additional unit 3 would be an ESBWR.[5] [6] but the project was placed on hold later in 2017 before construction started.[7]


Dominion Nuclear North Anna, LLC submitted its application for an Early Site Permit (ESP) for the North Anna site on September 25, 2003. The NRC issued the ESP on November 27, 2007.[8] On the same day, Dominion submitted an application for a Combined Construction and Operating License (COL) for a 1,520 MWe GEHitachi Economic Simplified Boiling Water Reactor (ESBWR), designated as North Anna Unit 3.[9]

In 2009, having failed to agree on terms for an engineering construction and procurement deal with GE-Hitachi to actually build the reactor, Dominion issued a new request for proposals from reactor vendors. In 2010, Dominion announced that it had selected a 1,700 MWe, US-specific version of Mitsubishi Heavy Industries' (MHI) Advanced Pressurized Water Reactor (APWR) for the potential Unit 3.[10] The proposed reactor brought public protest. On August 7, 2008 six activists from the Peoples Alliance for Clean Energy were arrested at the North Anna Information Center for trespassing.[11]

On October 29, 2010, Dominion president Tom Farrell told investors that Dominion had decided to slow its development of the proposed third reactor and wait until the combined construction permit-operating license (COL) was approved by the NRC before deciding to complete the project. This approval was expected in early 2013 but issued in May 2017.[12]

In 2013, it was announced that the ESBWR design would be pursued after all. Dominion stated that it would amend its COL application to reflect the ESBWR technology by the end of 2013 and expected to receive the COL "no earlier than late 2015." Dominion noted that it had not yet committed to building a new unit at North Anna.[13] In October 2015, the Virginia Attorney-General's Office called for the abandonment of the project because of the cost burden on consumers.[14]

On January 19, 2017, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission announced that its staff had completed its Final Safety Evaluation Report for a Combined License for the proposed reactor. The report concluded there are no safety aspects that would preclude issuing the license for the construction and operation of the new reactor. [15] On May 31, 2017, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission announced that it had authorized the issuance of a Combined License for North Anna. The license granted permission to build and operate an ESBWR design at the site. The license contained conditions, including specific actions associated with the NRC's post-Fukushima requirements for Mitigation Strategies and Spent Fuel Pool Instrumentation, and a pre-startup schedule for post-Fukushima aspects of the new reactor's emergency preparedness plans and procedures.[16]

On September 6, 2017, Dominion Energy paused development activities related to North Anna Unit 3, a decision that nuclear consultant Jim Little suggests may have been due to market conditions and competition from natural gas. Since the federal construction and operating license is valid for 20 years, Dominion Energy may opt to resume the project if economic prospects for the plant improve within that period.[7][17]

Seismic risk

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission's estimate of the risk each year of an earthquake intense enough to cause core damage to the reactor at North Anna was 1 in 22,727, according to an NRC study published in August 2010.[18][19]

According to the USGS, two distinct seismic zones are located in Virginia. The Central Virginia Seismic Zone and the Giles County Seismic Zone. Both of these zones produce recurrent small earthquakes at least every few years.[20] The North Anna Nuclear Generating Station, located 40 miles northwest of Richmond, lies within the Central Virginia Seismic Zone.

Known fault lines

During the construction of original nuclear reactors at North Anna, the utility learned of fault lines within the construction site of the proposed plants from its outside independent engineering firm, Stone & Webster, who the utility had hired to assess the proposed nuclear plant locations. The government fined the utility $32,000.00 for concealing this information.[21]

According to the Huffington Post, this 1977 Justice Department memo "..focused on how the power company and federal regulatory officials went to efforts to not make public the knowledge of geologic faulting at North Anna. "[V]irtually the entire Office of Regulation of the [Nuclear Regulator Commission was]... well aware of the fault and determined not to take any immediate action," according to the memo. A government attorney, Bradford Whitman, did not recommend prosecution at the time, but the power company was eventually fined $32,500 for making false statements during the licensing process, according to the DOJ memo."[22]


The Nuclear Regulatory Commission extended the operating licenses of these plants for an additional 20 years in 2003.

2011 Virginia earthquake

At 1:51pm on August 23, 2011, a 5.8 magnitude earthquake occurred, centered south of Mineral, Virginia, eleven miles from the North Anna Nuclear Station.[23] The Associated Press reported the quake "was felt as far north as Rhode Island, New York City and Martha's Vineyard, Mass." The reactors automatically shut down and, because of a loss of offsite power, four diesel generators started up to supply electricity to safety systems. The plant reported an "Alert" status, the second lowest level of four NRC emergency classifications,[24] until 11:16am on August 24, 2011.[25] One of the generators suffered a coolant leak and stopped working.[26] A fifth standby generator was activated to replace the broken unit, which was repaired.[25][27][28][29][30] Offsite power was restored later on August 23.[25][31] Dominion also reported that the aftershocks did not affect the power plant.[25] Also on August 24, Dominion announced that it had ended the "Notice of Unusual Event", the least serious of the NRC emergency classifications, at the North Anna Power Station following inspection of equipment susceptible to seismic activity.[32] However the plant was not restarted, pending NRC permission, until November.[33]

After the Fukushima disaster had occurred six months prior, the Virginia earthquake prompted public fears of a similar nuclear accident at North Anna.[34][35][36] According to local Virginia media station, WHSV, "The two North Anna reactors are among 27 in the eastern and central U.S. that may need upgrades because those plants are more likely to get hit with an earthquake larger than the one on which their design was based, according to a preliminary Nuclear Regulatory Commission review."[citation needed] Dominion has publicly stated that on-site, spent-nuclear-fuel long-term storage canisters shifted during the earthquake along with various building cracks, all while maintaining such damage does not represent unsafe operating conditions.[citation needed]

After more than two months of inspections, NRC permitted restart in November 2011.[33] As of December 20, 2011, both units at North Anna Power Station have restarted and are operating at full power.[37]

17 February 2012

On-site groundwater was found to contain a high level of tritium, the source of the tritium leak was unknown[38]

14 December 2016

Some diesel generator fuel oil was believed to be released underground, the source of leakage was unknown.[39][40]

Reactor data

The North Anna Nuclear Generating Station consists of two operational reactors, two originally planned units were cancelled. One additional unit is planned.

Reactor unit[41] Reactor type Capacity Construction started Electricity grid connection Commercial operation Shutdown
Net Gross
North Anna-1 Westinghouse 3-loop 903 MW 973 MW 1971-02-19 1978-04-19 1978-06-06
North Anna-2 Westinghouse 3-loop 972 MW 994 MW 1971-02-19 1980-08-25 1980-12-14
North Anna-3 (former project)[42] B&W 145 907 MW 950 MW 1971-06-01 Cancelled construction on 1982-11-01
North Anna-4 (former project)[43] B&W 145 907 MW 950 MW 1971-12-01 Cancelled construction on 1980-11-01
North Anna-3 (planned)[44][45] ESBWR 1538 MW 1594 MW


  1. ^ "EIA - State Nuclear Profiles". Retrieved 3 October 2017.
  2. ^ "North Anna and Surry, Power Stations — License Renewal Application". U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
  3. ^ "Backgrounder on Emergency Preparedness at Nuclear Power Plants". Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Retrieved 2019-12-22.
  4. ^ Bill Dedman, Nuclear neighbors: Population rises near US reactors, NBC News, April 14, 2011 Accessed May 1, 2011.
  5. ^ NRC to Issue New Reactor License to Dominion for North Anna Site | May 31, 2017
  6. ^ North Anna Power Station, Unit 3 |
  7. ^ a b "Amid nuclear setbacks, Virginia utility pauses plans for new reactor". Energy News Network. September 6, 2017. Retrieved 2019-07-30.
  8. ^ "Issued Early Site Permit — North Anna Site". U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC). August 28, 2008. Retrieved 2008-10-16.
  9. ^ "North Anna, Unit 3 Application". NRC. October 14, 2008. Retrieved 2008-10-16.
  10. ^ "Dominion selects APWR for North Anna". World Nuclear News. 10 May 2010. Retrieved 2010-05-10.
  11. ^ "6 arrested in protest at North Anna site". Daily Progress. August 7, 2008. Retrieved 2008-10-16.
  12. ^ "Dominion's 3rd-quarter net income declines". WTOP Radio. Oct 29, 2010. Retrieved 2010-11-10.
  13. ^ "ESBWR back as proposed North Anna unit". World Nuclear News. 26 April 2013. Retrieved 2013-06-15.
  14. ^
  15. ^[bare URL PDF]
  16. ^[bare URL PDF]
  17. ^ North Anna Power Station, Unit 3 |
  18. ^ Bill Dedman, "What are the odds? US nuke plants ranked by quake risk," NBC News, March 17, 2011 Accessed April 19, 2011.
  19. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2017-05-25. Retrieved 2011-04-19.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  20. ^ "Earthquakes in the Central Virginia Seismic Zone". Retrieved 29 November 2015.
  21. ^ Department of Justice 1977 memo VEPCO fined for concealing material issue
  22. ^ "North Anna Nuclear Plant Earthquake Risk: 1977 Memo Details Cover-Up Of Seismic Knowledge". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 29 November 2015.
  23. ^ "Magnitude 5.8 - VIRGINIA; 2011 August 23 17:51:04 UTC". Earthquake Hazards Program. United States Geological Survey. August 23, 2011. Archived from the original on March 29, 2012.
  24. ^ Smith, Rebecca; Tracy, Tennille; Fields, Gary (24 August 2011). "Virginia Nuclear Power Plant Loses Power After Quake". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 24 August 2011.
  25. ^ a b c d "Alert Ends at North Anna Power Station". PR Newswire. Retrieved 29 November 2015.
  26. ^ "U.S. Nuclear Industry Tested by Twin Threats From Mother Nature". August 24, 2011.
  27. ^ Forsyth, Jennifer (August 24, 2011). "Nuclear Plant's Full Power Restored". Wall Street Journal.
  28. ^ O'Grady, Eileen (Aug 23, 2011). "Quake raises safety concerns as US nuclear plant shut". Reuters.
  29. ^ "Quake rocks Washington area, felt on East Coast". Associated Press. August 23, 2011. Archived from the original on August 23, 2011. Retrieved August 23, 2011.
  30. ^ "North Anna nuclear facility loses power, shut down after quake". Richmond Times Dispatch.
  31. ^ "Dominion's North Anna Power Station Restores Offsite Power" Dominion news release, August 23, 2004. Retrieved 2011-08-25.
  32. ^ Dominion Virginia Power press release August 24, 2011. Retrieved 2011-08-24.
  33. ^ a b Dominion News, Dominion Virginia Power Begins Restart of North Anna Power Station November 11, 2011. Retrieved 2011-12-20
  34. ^ Roscoe, Ayesha (2011-08-29). "Virginia Quake May Have Exceeded Nuke Plant Design, NRC Says". Inside Climate News. Reuters. Retrieved 2019-06-10. The NRC has been reviewing the ability of U.S. plants to cope with major disasters after a massive earthquake and tsunami nearly led to a complete meltdown at Japan's Fukushima nuclear complex earlier this year....
  35. ^ Osnos, Evan (2011-10-10). "The Fallout: Seven months later: Japan's nuclear predicament". The New Yorker. Retrieved 2019-06-10. That debate became more urgent after August 23rd, when a 5.8-magnitude earthquake, whose epicenter was in Virginia—the largest quake in the area in more than a century—shook the East Coast. It affected twenty American nuclear reactors, most seriously the North Anna plant, in Virginia....
  36. ^ Lopez, Tyler (2013-09-09). "Virginia's Fukushima". Huffington Post. Retrieved 2019-06-10. Unfortunately, lack of foresight, cover-ups, earthquakes, and boiling-water reactors aren’t unique to Fukushima. Nearly 7,000 miles away, in Louisa, Va., the North Anna Nuclear Generating Station continues to produce electricity on the shores of Lake Anna....
  37. ^ NRC, Current Power Reactor Status Report for December 20, 2011 December 20, 2011. Retrieved 2011-12-20
  38. ^ "Elevated radioactivity levels found in North Anna well;from google (north anna nuclear leak) result 1".
  39. ^ "fuel oil was released underground". Facebook.
  40. ^ "Power Reactor Event Number: 52438".
  41. ^ "Power Reactor Information System - Home". Retrieved 29 November 2015.
  42. ^ "Nuclear Power Reactor Details - NORTH ANNA-3". International Atomic Energy Agency. 1982. Archived from the original on 4 June 2011. Retrieved 14 November 2017.
  43. ^ "Nuclear Power Reactor Details - NORTH ANNA-4". International Atomic Energy Agency. 1980. Archived from the original on 4 June 2011. Retrieved 14 November 2017.
  44. ^ Power Reactor Information System of the IAEA: „Nuclear Power Reactor Details - NORTH ANNA-3“[dead link]
  45. ^ U.S.NRC - Combined License Holders for New Reactors [1]

External links

  • Dominion's nuclear page
  • DoE Page
  • Harper, Scott (2006-11-22). "North Anna reactor proposal passes big test". The Virginian-Pilot.