Iran’s Bushehr nuclear power plant is safe after a 6.1 earthquake struck near the facility today, state-run Press TV reported.
Employees at the plant felt the tremors, a correspondent for the news channel said. At least 30 people died and another 600 were injured when the quake hit the town of Kaki, near Bushehr, the channel said. The 6.3 magnitude event struck 55 miles southeast of Bushehr port, the U.S. Geological Survey reported on its website.
The Bushehr plant can withstand a 9 magnitude earthquake, state-run Ria Novosti news service reported, citing an unidentified official in a company that designed the nuclear power plant, Iran’s first. Radiation levels at the facility are normal, state nuclear company Rosatom Corp. said, citing its staff in Iran.
While Iran isn’t member to the Convention on Nuclear Safety, which subjects nuclear power operators to peer review by other IAEA states, it does have obligations to report accidents. The country ratified the Convention on Early Notification of a Nuclear Accident in 2000 that “requires States to report the accident’s time, location, radiation releases, and other data essential for assessing the situation.”
Mahmoud Jafari, a project manager for the plant, said the quake “didn’t create any complications,” according to the official Islamic Republic News Agency.
Bushehr, Iran’s only functioning nuclear-power reactor, was commissioned by Iran’s deposed Shah in 1975 and only began producing electricity in September 2011.
According to the Iranian Seismological Center, the quake hit at 4:22 p.m. local time and was followed by at least four aftershocks, Press TV said. The shocks were also felt in Dubai, on the other side of the Persian Gulf, where buildings shook.
The country sits on several fault lines and is frequently hit by earthquakes. An estimated 40,000 people were killed in 2003 when a temblor flattened the city of Bam in the southern province of Kerman.
The quake came as the country’s leaders marked National Nuclear Technology Day with announcements on a new uranium processing facility.
“Nobody will be able to put the brakes on Iran’s nuclear progress,” President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said in a ceremony at the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran in Tehran.