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Diablo Canyon: A California Nightmare
Last month Reuters reported that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) had finalized their report on the Diablo Canyon (which I keep reading as Diablo Cody, the writer of the award-winning movie Juno) nuclear station which is operated by Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E).
Diablo Canyon is lovingly nestled against the Pacific Ocean on Avila Beach in San Luis Obispo County. It’s also near four fault lines including the San Andreas, the Hosgri, and now the Shoreline fault, discovered in 2008, which prompted the NRC’s study.
The site provides an estimated 3 million Northern and Central California customers with power and PG&E would like to keep it safe and operating.
Reuters provided several reassuring quotes from PG&E and NRC about the safety of the plant after the NRC visit last year:
“Diablo Canyon operator Pacific Gas & Electric said it welcomed the NRC finding ‘which confirms that Diablo Canyon is seismically safe and is designed to withstand the maximum ground motions that seismic faults in the region are believed capable of producing,‘ in a separate statement.”
“Analysis from the visit and available information indicates that ground motion from earthquakes the Shoreline fault could potentially generate would fall within Diablo Canyon's existing design limits, the agency said in its report.”
“The plant's design limits are based on ground motion associated with an earthquake from the larger Hosgri fault near the plant, the NRC said.”
Those were the it’s been “deemed safe” parts now for the l”et’s keep it operating” bit.
PG&E was in the process of obtaining permits needed to begin a $64 million seismic survey series that would use sonic blasts in Morro Bay to map earthquake faults.
These blasts would be extremely loud, would send pulses as far as nine miles into the seafloor, disturb thousands of marine mammals (if not eventually killing porpoises, sea otters, and fish), and could cripple the local fishing industry. The blasts themselves won’t kill the animals but the sound could damage their hearing and drive them out of their foraging areas.
The renewal licenses that would extend operation until 2024 and 2025 that PG&E has applied for are basically contingent on proving the facility can withstand earthquake damage from the new fault line.
Tomorrow the California Coastal Commission is scheduled to vote on PG&E’s request after the commission released a report last week that recommended a denial should be issued.
The LA Times provided this quote: "The staff is saying that the potential impacts of this project are so severe that a seismic survey should be the last alternative," said Alison Dettmer, the commission's deputy director of ocean resources. "Theoretically, they could come back later and apply again."
Sure, PG&E “could come back later and apply again" but exactly when is there not going to be marine life in the ocean? How can they conduct tests of this magnitude safely and is there even a safer option? Has the utility turned to this “last alternative” because in the wake of Fukushima they can’t afford to wait for the “big one” that has been ominously predicted in California for at least two generations? I’m not saying that PG&E should be allowed to move forward but it seems they are stuck in difficult place, just like Diablo Canyon.
1944: Camano Class Light Cargo Ship was laid down for the US Army as FS-289 at Wheeler Shipbuilding in Whitestone, NY.
1955 - 1963: Used as a cargo supply ship for the Texas Towers, a network of advanced radar stations located off the Eastern Seaboard. In 1957, Capt. Sixto Mangual was commander of the AKL-17 and in 1961 it was rechristened the USNS New Bedford. The New Bedford, sailing out of State Pier, was keeping vigil when Texas Tower No. 4 callapsed off the New Jersey coast during a January 1961 nor'easter.
2006: Design of the Tesla Turbine began on June 11, 2006. The Sea Bird was sold by Defense Reutilization and Marketing Service for commercial service.