East Coast Earthquake Sends 2 Nuclear Plants Offline, Ceiling Tiles, Bricks to the Ground

Virginia Earthquake

An earthquake measuring 5.9 on the Richter scale shook much of the continental United States' east coast today. Thankfully news reports indicate that there was no severe damage, but the event raised some questions about the safety of nuclear facilities in the affected area.

First things first, Did you Feel It? If so, head on over to this site and help contribute to some citizen science. The Washington Post is reporting that two nuclear reactors have been taken offline as a precaution, however no damage has been reported. The reactors were built to withstand a 5.9 - 6.1 quakes, so if the quake had been stronger, the damage may have been more severe.

For more on the proximity of nuclear reactors in high-seismic zones in the United States, be sure to see our map.

NBC29.com reported back in March that the Lake Anna Reactor Ranked 7th most At-Risk for Earthquake Damage

Also back in March, MSNBC posted on the odds of an earthquake taking down US nuclear plants, reporting a 1 in 22,727 chance of the North Anna plant being taken down. NPR reported that the last damaging quake to hit that area was in 1857 with a 4.8 quake.

With the severe damage that resulted from the Japan earthquake and subsequent tsunami and nuclear meltdown at the Fukushima nuclear plants, it's understandable a quake here in the US would have people concerned. So far it appears everything is okay following this quake. We'll update this post if that changes.

Follow the #earthquake hashtag and @TreeHugger on Twitter to get more up-to-the-minute updates.

I'm @ChrisTackett
UPDATE: Gizmodo has a great live blog going with some interesting bits of info, such as my favorite: "Update 34: The quake's epicenter released the equivalent power of 10,676 tons of dynamite. Kaboom. NATURE!"