An earth quake near Sellafield Nuclear power plant

On 21st December 2010 a small earthquake occurred in Cumbria. It was reported as a quaint item of interest; no damage was caused and it lasted about 30 seconds. It was centred on Coniston and had a magnitude of 3.6 on the Richter scale. Most reports ignored one important factor. The quake was felt at Sellafield, not terribly far from Coniston.

Sellafield is the site of a nuclear power plant. It stores radioactive material both to be used and spent material. High level waste is vitrified, which reduces its mass and renders the waste into a solid form, for long term storage which will likely be underground at Sellafield. Intermediate level waste is put into stainless steel drums, filled with cement and stored above ground at Sellafield.

The earthquake centred at Coniston started at a depth of about nine miles.

If a new earthquake was to happen (they seem to affect this part of the country every ten or so years, and were centred on Sellafield at a higher depth, I wonder whether the radioactive stores would remain safe?

Usually earth quakes in this part of the world do not exceed 3.7 on the Richter scale, but of course, earthquakes can be much more powerful, even in Cumbrai.

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