UPDATE 1-NRC to decide on Va. nuclear plant restart in weeks
* North Anna shut after earthquake on Aug. 23
* Dominion says North Anna ready for restart (Adds details, quotes and background)
Oct 24 (Reuters) - The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission said on Monday they expect to make a decision on the restart of Dominion's North Anna nuclear power plant in Virginia in weeks, not months.
NRC spokesman, Joey Ledford said the NRC was not likely to make a decision prior to or at a planned Nov. 1 meeting.
North Anna shut safely after an earthquake near the plant on Aug. 23.
Last week, Virginia-based power company Dominion said it was ready to restart both reactors at the 1,806-megawatt North Anna plant, pending NRC approval.
But the NRC reiterated last week its commitment to ensuring the plant is totally safe before it allows operations to resume.
"The bottom line is that the NRC will not authorize restart until we are satisfied that the plant can be operated while protecting public health and safety," Bill Borchardt, NRC executive director of operations, said at a commission hearing last week.
The restart process for North Anna has taken place in the shadow of the nuclear disaster that roiled Japan in March when an earthquake and tsunami damaged the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, causing reactor fuel meltdowns and radiation releases.
The NRC staff scheduled a public meeting for Nov. 1 in Mineral, Virginia, to discuss its inspection of North Anna and its assessment of the plant's readiness to restart.
The NRC said in a release the staff would discuss its restart review and inspection at the plant since the earthquake, providing an overview of the restart requirements, the staff review process, an overview of the key technical areas associated with the safety review and a path forward.
The epicenter of the earthquake was about 11 miles (17.5 km) from the North Anna station and about four miles underground.
The quake marked the first time an operating U.S. nuclear plant experienced a tremor that exceeded its design parameters. (Reporting by Scott DiSavino in New York;editing by Sofina Mirza-Reid)
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