5.9 Earthquake Hits Virginia; Pentagon Evacuated

Tuesday, August 23rd 2011, 2:25 pm
By: News 9

Associated Press

WASHINGTON -- A 5.9 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.

The quake, which struck at 1:51 Eastern time, sent hundreds of people spilling into the street a block from the White House, with other buildings evacuated in NorthCarolina and tremors felt as far away as New York City.

The U.S. Geological Survey, which initially reported a magnitude of 5.8 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 in Mineral, Va., in Louisa County.

National Park Service spokesman Bill Line says the memorials and monuments, including the new Martin Luther King Jr. memorial, were evacuated immediately after the quake. He says he's not aware of any injuries to visitors or Park Service staff or damage to Park Service properties.

Federal officials say two nuclear reactors at the North Anna Power Station in the same county as the epicenter were automatically taken off by safety systems around the time of the earthquake.

The Dominion-operated power plant is being run off of four emergency diesel generators, which are supplying power for critical safety equipment.

Nuclear Regulatory Commission spokesman Roger Hannah says the agency was not immediately aware of any damage at nuclear power plants in the southeast. NRC officials are still assessing the situation.

The National Weather Service says no tsunami is expected, but U.S. Geological Survey geophysicist Don Blakeman says people on the East Coast should be ready for aftershocks following Tuesday's quake.