TVA said Wednesday morning's earthquake didn't cause any damage or disruptions to its operations.
TVA sent workers to each of its facilities including nuclear plants, fossil plants and dams to check for damage, including Watts Bar Nuclear Plant, which was close to the epicenter of the earthquake.
TVA said they are all operating safely, and that their facilities are built to withstand more than the highest recorded earthquake in Tennessee.
"Here in East Tennessee you have to go all the way back to the 1800s to get to the most significant earthquake, which was above a 6.0," TVA spokesperson Jim Hopson said. "So today's 4.4 is not even close to what we're designed to withstand, which is above a 6.0 earthquake."
He said some of TVA's facilities have seismic detectors that can shift an operation into safety mode if an earthquake is large enough. He said that did not happen at any facilities on Wednesday morning.
Hopson explained we can't compare this event in East Tennessee to seismic activity you might see in California or Alaska or expect facilities in the area to be built to withstand that kind of activity.
"It's built to exceed far beyond what we saw today, certainly far beyond what we can expect to encounter in the East Tennessee area," Hopson said. "You simply can't compare East Tennessee to a California or Alaska or Tokyo, Japan, because we are not in as seismically active of an area as those locations are."
"So its unreasonable to expect facilities, whether they are commercial facilities like a nuclear power plant or a dam, even residential building standards, to withstand an eight or nine earthquake because it's just not something that is reasonable to assume is going to happen," Hopson said.
He did say that while small earthquakes happen fairly often in East Tennessee, Wednesday's earthquake was the largest TVA has seen in recent years and along the Decatur fault lines, but couldn't say whether or not it was the largest closest epicenter to Watts Bar.
"When we designed Watts Bar and Sequoyah, we went back to the U.S. Geological Survey, and we went back to find the largest earthquake on their records, which is actually back in the 1800s," Hopson explained. "It was centered up in the northeast part of the state, actually closer to North Carolina, Virginia, Tennessee, right there in that area. And it was a more significant earthquake than what we saw this morning, it was closer to a six."
But even though it's not common, Hopson explained TVA is prepared to handle an earthquake of that size and beyond.
"But as you can see that hasn't happened in 130 plus years, so this is not a frequent event for those types of seismic events to happen," he said. "However, our facilities are designed to withstand that level of event and beyond."