Aug 27 2014

Can Diablo Canyon Nuclear Plant Withstand a Major Earthquake? A Federal Regulator Doesn’t Think So

California’s last functioning nuclear power plant, Diablo Canyon, has the potential to become the world’s next Fukushima if it fails to be properly retrofitted to withstand a powerful earthquake in the region – this according to a report written by federal nuclear expert Dr. Michael Peck. The report was leaked to the environmental group Friends of the Earth this week and urges a complete shut down of Diablo Canyon until inspectors can determine whether it can withstand an earthquake.

Peck, who was the plant’s lead on-site inspector for five years, wrote the report only after his supervisors ignored his repeated warnings to properly retrofit the plant following the discovery of new fault lines in the area. When Peck suggested citing the plant’s owner, PG&E, with safety violations, his supervisors at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission deemed the plant safe.

The reactor is located near Avila Beach in Central California’s San Luis Obispo County, roughly midway between LA and San Francisco. The controversy around the plant comes two years after a decision to temporarily shut down the San Onofre nuclear power plant in San Diego, due to a series of ongoing problems with faulty steam generators and damaged tubes. That plant remains closed.

Meanwhile in Fukushima, Japan, whose earthquake and tsunami related disaster has only fueled nuclear fears in California, plant operators are becoming desperate to find a way to dispose of irradiated water and there are reports of unusually high rates of thyroid cancer among children living in the area.

GUEST: David Weisman, Outreach Coordinator for Alliance for Nuclear Responsibility

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