Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Did you Feel the Earth Move?

Californians take most earthquakes for granted, but New Yorkers don't expect to feel their buildings shaking. At about 1:50PM today, several Main Street, Mountaindale residents felt a tremor that was related to the 5.9 magnitude earthquake that hit Virginia. The quake was 4 miles deep at its epicenter. Tremors were felt as far north as Bath, ME, and as far south as Hampstead, NC, with several Canadian reports as well.

For those locals who felt it, it was a very strange sensation. At 51 Main Street, the building shook and creaked a bit, but all the art & furniture stayed put. Things were different in the Washington/Virginia area where there was structural damage reported. In some cases, buildings were evacuated as a precaution and Amtrak had railway service disruptions. There was also an interruption in cell phone service in the New York City area, where traders in the New York Stock Exchange could also feel the tremors. Of a more serious concern are the nuclear power plants on the East Coast, which were reportedly shut down and listed as in safe condition.

For those who do not know it, Indian Point's reactors sit on a earthquake fault...in fact, if the reactors were seeking a new license today, instead of a license renewal, said license could not be issued. Meanwhile, both the NRC and Entergy assure us the general public that the chances of a earthquake occurring on this fault are highly unlikely...sort of like the unlikely chance today that the people in Virginia would experience a 5.8 on the Richter Scale quake. Perhaps now we can get the NRC to explain to us why they refuse to consider earthquakes in the re-licensing of the Indian Point reactors. Guess we need to wait until a natural disaster similar to the one that took out the TEPCO reactors in Japan before our regulatory folks are willing to look at this very real danger.