By Peter Galuszka

Today’s earthquake near Mineral should shake up a lot of thinking.

All sorts of things happened about 10 minutes to 2 p.m. The Pentagon was evacuated. Airplanes up and down the East Coast were put on ground hold. A stairwell in Richmond is said to have collapsed.

As for me, I was sitting under a pine tree in Nottoway County. I had had meetings in Richmond in the morning and then a doctor’s visit (good result) and I decided to take my trusty, 11-year-old German Shepherd for a midday break.

We drove to Fort Pickett near Blackstone and sat in the shade of a pine tree watching paratroopers jump from a lumbering C-130 transport plane. A few hundred feet away were two sea-grey Navy Seahawk helicopters. One started its jet engines. Then the ground started to tremble, and tremble and tremble. I was amazed the jet turbine could shake things so. It lasted a good 30 seconds. The pine needles shook. I actually thought how amazing that these few World War II era hangers could last so long, given all the shaking from planes and helicopters.

It wasn’t until 10 minutes later when I heard it was a 5.9 earthquake centered, as they usually are, near Mineral. It’s the same approximate location of an earlier quake in 2003. I had been on the phone for a work matter with a colleague and she said, “Gee, I have to stop drinking so much coffee.”

The U.S. East Coast is not as prepared as the West Coast is for earthquakes. We’ve had some — notably in Charleston S.C. Dominion’s two North Anna reactors are near the epicenter and word is that they lost power but diesel generators shut them down safely. I also learned that North Anna is designed only to handle a 5.9 to 6.1 level quake. We’re already there.

Years ago, when North Anna was proposed, environmentalists endured some rather nasty attacks from then-Virginia Electric Power Co. for suggesting that it might be a bad idea to locate nukes near a fault. The fault is ancient and never active, Vepco’s then-aggressive flaks insisted. You know how it is. Anyone who dares question Big Business is tarred as negative, regressive and un-American. Don’t believe me? Read this blog.

Granted, a 5.9 level quake is nothing like the 9.0 level one that struck Fukushima, Japan, causing the worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl earlier this year. That quake turned the growing popularity of commercial nuclear power on its head. Germany will now get rids of its reactors over the next 20 years. Still, Southside politicians and farm owners want Virginia to become a locus of uranium mining near Chatham.

There’s plenty to think about. And who knows? Maybe the Baconauts and Fox “fair and balanced” News will try to afix blame on Barack Obama. Why not? They are blaming him for everything else.

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10 responses to “All Shook Up”

  1. I was sitting the basement when the rumbling began. I immediately thought, “There goes that wretched washing machine — the spin cycle is out of control.” When I dashed upstairs to deal with it, I realized, “Er, the washing machine isn’t on.” Then a decorative plate fell off the wall and broke into pieces. Otherwise, no damage.

    My next thought, as Peter deduced,was that Barack Obama was up to no good — probably trying to sabotage the economy!

  2. I was sitting on the couch.. when it started.. and I assumed it was a big tree falling in the woods around the house (yes I live in an auto-dependent sprawl subdivision)…

    from time to time.. we have trees fall .. and the larger ones will shake the house.

    but after this went on.. I was quite sure that the whole forest was not falling….but worried that maybe something in the house had blown up or an airliner had come down…

    the dog (a lab) ran through the dog door outside in a growl to confront the intruder that was shaking the house…

    we live 10 miles as the crow flies from North Anna… and word is that both shut down… automatically….

    yes. … they have a proposal for a 3rd reactor and have taken up the NRC on their fast track process… but I was struck by a statement made by the top dog when asked about a timeframe… for the 3rd reactor last year… it went something like this: ” lord, we don’t want our investors to have a heart attack”.

    that was before the Japan deal and before today’s earthquake…

  3. Groveton Avatar

    Let’s see … One guy was sitting in a field with his dog, one was in his basement contemplating his washing machine and a third was sitting on his couch.


    I’m one of those lousy rent seeking economic profiteers. In other words, I was at work. No doubt LarryG’s last thoughts before the quake (while he sat on his couch) was how unfair it is that I pay so few taxes.

    The ground shook. I told my coworkers it was an earthquake. I have been though plenty of them on my many, many trips to California.

    The building manager came on the PA and told everybody to leave the building while they checked for damage. All of the private industry people stood outside the building and waited. Thirty minutes later we were given the all clear. None of my coworkers left work. As far as I could see none of the people in the building left.

    The show was over. Time to get back to work. For me, that meant a drive downtown for a meeting. I never thought twice about it. I sailed down the roads in Northern Virginia past the buildings of defense contractors full of hard working employees.

    Then I got into DC. Holy crap! Total gridlock. I switched from my country music station to an all news station. Every good for nothing, worthless, useless government worker had been sent home. Unbelievable! No wonder everybody in America hates the government.

    I get to my meeting an hour late but everybody is there. You see, they work in private industry. Now I sit in a parking lot in DC looking at complete, total gridlock as I type this out on my iPhone.

    I’ve decided … I will retire at the next reasonable chance. Why should I be the only person left trying in this God damned country?

  4. Peter Galuszka Avatar
    Peter Galuszka

    G Groovey. Look at this way. You are the only guy with a real job who actually makes money.


  5. unfortunately Groovey Groveton is correct…. the private guys go back to work… DOD and the rest of govt has the perfect excuse to go on holiday.

    but here’s a hint – there are a lot of retired seniors who would work – if there were jobs… and/or they didn’t feel guilty about taking one of the few available jobs.

    there just are not enough jobs to go around these days unless of course you are a govt worker in NoVa/DC….

    but here’s a question for Groveton. What hurts NoVa more.. cutting SS/Medicare or cutting DOD/contractor employees?

  6. My experience was like grovetons, we went outside for a while, got the all clear and went back to work. On the upper floors the building swayed and you could hear the girders , floor going left and ceiling going right.

    To be fair, those govt buildings are stone, and more subject to damage.

  7. schools opening delayed here while structural inspections done…..

    chimneys down on older structures in Fredburg….

    VDOT checking bridges… (many are over 50 years old and not built to modern earthquake standards).

    the word from North Anna is – no damage (even though it is 7 miles from the epicenter).

  8. Groveton – if you like what you do – regardless of the money – don’t quit doing it unless you have other things you want to do….

    1. Groveton Avatar

      In other words, if I find that I have enough money to stop working I should just devote the rest of my life to fishing and playing golf as long as I like fishing and playing golf more than work?

      Needless to say, I would earn nothing and would stop paying income taxes, etc.

      I am not sure that’s a very moral decision.

      Society should frown on able bodied people who stop working and stop contributing. Indeed, I’d support an income tax on people with no income if they had sufficient net worth.

      Just because somebody decides they want to quit working doesn’t mean they should get a free pass on all the government services they receive.

  9. Peter Galuszka Avatar
    Peter Galuszka

    G. Groovey.
    You’re taking things too hard, my man. Quit working. Retire. Unveil yourself so we know who you really are! Screw society!


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