Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Memories of an Earthquake

How serious was the earthquake the hit the east coast last month. Consider:

rapelling

These fine folk are starting at the top of the Washington Monument and rappelling down to check out the structure. In the meantime, the monument is closed to the public. Here’s some detail:

The team [two men and two women] plans to climb up and down the monument to check each stone for cracks, chips and other damage caused by the 5.8-magnitude quake that shook the nation's capital Aug. 23. They will take breaks as needed by making a descent that can take 12 to 15 minutes without stops, and resume work by riding the elevator back to the top.

Presumably, the fourth team member is on the dark side of the monument. Happily, these aren’t just daredevils without portfolio.

[Team member Erik] Sohn is part of a team from a private firm that's certified with a rare combination of climbing and engineering skills.

and:

Each team member is carrying several items, including a digital camera, an iPad that includes data from the 1999 restoration of the monument, a two-way radio, masonry tools that will allow them to remove loose pieces of stone or mortar and a soft mallet for audio testing.

An iPad! Hip engineer daredevils!

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And speaking of that August 23 earthquake, what about the North Anna plant in Virginia that has been closed since it occurred?

Dominion Resources officials said vibration from an August 23 earthquake in Virginia detected inside the two North Anna nuclear reactors caused the units to shut rather than a loss of power into the station, a Dominion spokesman said on Tuesday.

Which it’s supposed to do. The reason the two reactors remain closed is because no U.S. nuclear plant has experienced an earthquake larger than its design basis and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and Dominion want to be thorough in their review of the facility. It can also act as a case study of such an incident.

Even with these ongoing efforts, Dominion is ready to roll:

Richmond-based Dominion had asked the commission to possibly restart one of the reactors by the end of the month…

But may be cooling its heels until the NRC issues a report, now due in late October. We’ll see.

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