The Valentine's Day earthquake centered in Aiken County was felt as far away at Atlanta. But apparently it didn't make waves at nearby Savannah River Site.
That's good news considering the volume and variety of radioactive material on site - including millions of gallons of high-level liquid waste stored in steel and concrete tanks.
The earthquake was described in press reports as "small," measuring 4.1 on the Richter Scale.
In contrast, the great quake that struck Charleston in 1886 was estimated to be 7.3 on that scale - more than 30 times the intensity of the recent Aiken rumble.
SRS spokesman Jim Giusti tells us that "nuclear facilities, including waste tanks, at the Savannah River Site are designed to withstand the ground motion that would be experienced in Aiken, assuming Charleston would experience another earthquake of the same magnitude."
The Charleston quake was the most severe earthquake ever recorded in South Carolina. It caused major damage to Charleston and was felt throughout much of the eastern U.S.
The small Aiken quake of 2014 resulted in ground movement of about 1.5 percent of what SRS facilities are designed to withstand.
Still, those new pre-quake cracks in the 60-year-old containment vessels for high-level liquid waste are hardly reassuring under normal circumstances, much less in a seismic event.
The state Department of Health and Environmental Control is pushing the federal Department of Energy, which oversees SRS, to advance site decontamination according to schedule, and has threatened to fine the agency if it continues to lag.
The fact that SRS is near an earthquake fault is another reason for DHEC to maintain the pressure on the DOE to get up to speed.
It's important to maintain that pressure for cleanup - particularly in regard to the radioactive waste that sloshes around when shaken.
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