US nuclear plant shuts safely as tornado hits

18 April 2011

Both units at Dominion Virginia Power's Surry nuclear plant in Virginia shut down automatically as designed when an apparent tornado touched down at the plant's switchyard, cutting off external electricity supplies to the station. Backup diesel generators started up immediately to provide the necessary power to keep the two pressurised water reactors in a safe and stable condition. The tornado did not strike the nuclear units themselves, although their steel-reinforced concrete containment buildings are designed to withstand such natural events. Off-site power sources were subsequently restored to each unit.