The North Anna nuclear plant, ten miles from the epicenter of last week’s earthquake, was designed to withstand a 5.9-6.1 magnitude earthquake, and may have exceeded its design limits. It’s a good thing everything worked:
The spent fuel pools at North Anna contain 4-5 times more than their original designs intended. As in Japan, all U.S. power nuclear power plant spent fuel pools do not have steel lined, concrete barriers that cover reactor vessels to prevent the escape of radioactivity. They are not required to have back-up generators to keep used fuel rods cool, if offsite power is lost. Even though they contain these very large amount of radioactivity, spent reactor fuel pools in the U.S. are mostly contained in ordinary industrial structures designed to protect them against the elements.
North Anna lost power and its generators worked (one failed but another spare was put on-line to replace it). As with other US plants, the spent fuel needs to be moved to dry cask storage, where no electrically-powered cooling is needed.