Surry Nuclear Power Plant

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Surry Nuclear Power Plant
HD.6D.371 (10856487633).jpg
CountryUnited States
LocationSurry County, near Rushmere, Virginia
Coordinates37°9′56″N 76°41′52″W / 37.16556°N 76.69778°W / 37.16556; -76.69778Coordinates: 37°9′56″N 76°41′52″W / 37.16556°N 76.69778°W / 37.16556; -76.69778
Construction beganJune 25, 1968 (1968-06-25)
Commission dateUnit 1: December 22, 1972
Unit 2: May 1, 1973[1]
Construction cost$1.868 billion (2007 USD)[2]
Owner(s)Dominion Resources
Operator(s)Dominion Energy
Nuclear power station
Reactor typePWR
Reactor supplierWestinghouse
Cooling sourceJames River
Power generation
Units operational2 × 838 MW
Make and modelWH 3-loop (DRYSUB)
Units cancelled2 × 859 MW
Thermal capacity2 × 2587 MWth
Nameplate capacity1676 MW
Capacity factor98.27% (2017)
77.5% (lifetime)
Annual net output14,428 GW·h (2017)
Surry Power Station

Surry Power Station is a nuclear power plant located in Surry County in southeastern Virginia, in the South Atlantic United States. The power station lies on an 840-acre (340 ha) site adjacent to the James River across from Jamestown, slightly upriver from Smithfield and Newport News. Surry is operated by Dominion Generation and owned by Dominion Resources, Inc.

The Surry plant is similar in appearance and design to its "sister plant" North Anna Power Station, located northwest of Richmond in Louisa County, Virginia.


The plant has two triple-loop Westinghouse pressurized water reactors which went on-line in 1972 and 1973 respectively. Each reactor produces approximately 800 megawatts of power, for a combined plant output of 1.6 gigawatts. Surry Power Station draws its condenser cycle water directly from the James River, removing the need for the imposing cooling towers often associated with nuclear plants. Repeated testing shows that Surry Power Station has minimal environmental impact and releases virtually no radiation or harmful emissions.

The station site was originally designed for four units; however, only two reactors were built. With increasing energy demands in the United States, it is possible that more reactors will be built at Surry in the next few decades.

In 2003, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) extended the operating licenses for both reactors from forty to sixty years. In 2016 its owner announced it intended in due course to seek an extension to eighty years of operation, to 2052 and 2053.[3]

Surry was one of the plants analyzed in the NUREG-1150 safety analysis study.

Surrounding population[edit]

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission defines two emergency planning zones around nuclear power plants: a plume exposure pathway zone with a radius of 10 miles (16 km), concerned primarily with exposure to, and inhalation of, airborne radioactive contamination, and an ingestion pathway zone of about 50 miles (80 km), concerned primarily with ingestion of food and liquid contaminated by radioactivity.[4]

The 2010 U.S. population within 10 miles (16 km) of Surry was 127,041, an increase of 21.9 percent in a decade, according to an analysis of U.S. Census data for The 2010 U.S. population within 50 miles (80 km) was 2,292,642, an increase of 13.9 percent since 2000. Cities within 50 miles include Hopewell, Petersburg, Williamsburg, Newport News, Hampton, Poquoson, Portsmouth, Norfolk (30 miles to city center), Virginia Beach (47 miles to city center), and Richmond (50 miles to city center).[5]


• On July 27, 1972, two workers were fatally scalded after a routine valve adjustment led to a steam release in a gap in a vent line.

• On May 8, 1979, FBI agents investigated a white crystalline substance which had been poured into 62 fresh fuels elements kept in storage at the plant, a day after plant officials made the discovery. Westinghouse metallurgists found no damage to the fuel elements, including the metal containers and zirconium rods holding the fresh fuel.[6]

• On December 9, 1986, a steam explosion (condensate feed piping ruptured due to internal erosion and over-pressurization when feed pump check valve failed) in the non-nuclear part of Unit 2 injured eight workers. Four later died.[7]

• On April 16, 2011, a tornado touched down in the plant's electrical switching station, disabling primary power to the plant's cooling pumps and causing the backup diesel generators to activate without incident.[8][9]

• On August 23, 2011, an earthquake in central Virginia automatically shut down Dominion's North Anna reactors 11 miles from the epicenter. The similar Surry reactors continued in operation and Dominion declared a "Notice of Unusual Event" (the least dangerous of a four-level emergency scale) for the Surry plant which was lifted later the same day.[10]

Seismic risk[edit]

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission's estimate of the risk each year of an earthquake intense enough to cause core damage to the reactor at Surry was 1 in 175,439, according to an NRC study published in August 2010.[11][12]


  1. ^ Virginia Nuclear Power Plants,
  2. ^ "EIA - State Nuclear Profiles". Retrieved 3 October 2017.
  3. ^ "Surry to seek 80-year operation". Nuclear Engineering International. 30 March 2016. Retrieved 7 April 2016.
  4. ^
  5. ^ Bill Dedman, Nuclear neighbors: Population rises near US reactors,, April 14, 2011 Accessed May 1, 2011.
  6. ^ Barker, Karlyn (1979-05-10). "FBI Looking For Motive In Surry Case". The Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved 2016-03-13.
  7. ^ U.S. General Accounting Office assessment of Surry accident, March 18, 1988
  8. ^ Gillard, Eric. "Tornado touchdown causes shutdown at Surry nuclear plant", The (Newport News, Va.) Daily Press. April 17, 2011. Retrieved April 17, 2011.
  9. ^ [1]NRC Event Notification Report for April 20, 2011
  10. ^ "Dominion's North Anna Power Station Restores Offsite Power" Dominion news release, August 23, 2004. Retrieved 2011-08-25.
  11. ^ Bill Dedman, "What are the odds? US nuke plants ranked by quake risk,", March 17, 2011 Accessed April 19, 2011.
  12. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2017-05-25. Retrieved 2011-06-17.

External links[edit]