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5.8 Earthquake Rattles East Coast

Audio

Aired 8/23/11

A 5.8 magnitude earthquake centered northwest of Richmond, Va., shook much of Washington, D.C., and was felt as far north as Rhode Island and New York City.

A 5.8 magnitude earthquake centered northwest of Richmond, Va., shook much of Washington, D.C., and was felt as far north as Rhode Island and New York City and as far west as Ohio and Michigan.

Crowds stand on Wall Street after a 5.9 earthquake struck on August 23, 2011 in New York, United States. The epicenter of the 5.9 earthquake was located near Louisa in central Virginia.
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Above: Crowds stand on Wall Street after a 5.9 earthquake struck on August 23, 2011 in New York, United States. The epicenter of the 5.9 earthquake was located near Louisa in central Virginia.

A 5.8 magnitude earthquake was felt in Virginia on August 23, 2011.

Above: A 5.8 magnitude earthquake was felt in Virginia on August 23, 2011.

The U.S. Geological Survey said the earthquake was 3.7 miles deep. Shaking was felt at the White House and all over the East Coast, as far south as Chapel Hill, N.C. Parts of the Pentagon, White House and Capitol were evacuated. The quake was centered in Mineral, Va., in Louisa County.

There have been no reports of injuries nor severe damage.

Nuclear Power Plants Off Line

Federal officials say two nuclear reactors at the North Anna Power Station in Louisa County, Va., were automatically taken off line by safety systems around the time of the earthquake.

The power plant is being run off three emergency diesel generators, which are supplying power for critical safety equipment. The NRC and state are sending people to inspect the plant.

A fourth diesel generator failed, but it wasn't considered an emergency because the other generators are working.

Nuclear Regulatory Commission spokesman Roger Hannah said the agency was not immediately aware of any damage at nuclear power plants in the southeast.

Hannah said he knew of no other shut reactor but that unusual events were reported at a dozen other plant sites.

Louisa County is about 40 miles northwest of Richmond.

Monuments Closed

The National Park Service said all memorials and monuments on the National Mall were evacuated and closed after an earthquake struck near the nation's capital. No damage was reported.

The Park Service said the memorials and monuments, including the new Martin Luther King Jr. memorial, were evacuated immediately after the quake.

Agency spokesman Jeffrey Olson said that there was "absolutely no damage" to the Washington Monument, Lincoln Memorial or other tourist destinations along the Mall.

JFK Shut Down

A spokesman for the union representing air traffic controllers said airport towers were closed at John F. Kennedy and Newark airports.

Tim Hardison of the National Air Traffic Controllers Union also said Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland was closed to air traffic.

Laura Brown, a spokeswoman for the Federal Aviation Administration said the agency issued orders to hold planes heading for Dulles International in Virginia, John F. Kennedy in New York and Philadelphia on the ground rather than let them take off.

Brown, who was evacuated from FAA's headquarters in downtown Washington, said in an email that she wasn't aware of equipment outages.

Authorities said Reagan National Airport in Northern Virginia near Washington, was operating.

Amtrak Slowed

Amtrak reports train service along the Northeast Corridor between Baltimore and Washington, D.C., is operating at reduced speeds due to the earthquake centered in Virginia.

Amtrak said its crews are inspecting stations and railroad infrastructure before returning to normal operation. The rail service says no injuries have been reported but passengers should expect delays.

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