Page 1 article reprinted from the May 14, 2015 edition of the Malibu Times
Diablo Canyon nuclear plant
in SLO County ranked by NRC
officials most likely in nation
to be hit by quake bigger than
it is designed to withstand
By Jimy Tallal
Special to the Malibu Times (All photos by Kevin Lynn — provided independently not published in Malibu Times)
As the crow flies, Malibu is only about 120 miles from the state’s only remaining nuclear power plant, Diablo Can;yon, on the coast of Avila Beach in San Luis Obispo County. What happens in the event the plant is hit by a tsunami or has an accident similar to Three-Mile Island or Chernobyl? More than 50 people showed up to find out what the experts had to say at Saturday’s Malibu Democratic Club speaker series, and they say the results in Malibu might not be pretty.
“It’s about time, especially following the Fukushima disaster, that we take another look at our own coastal nuclear power plant,” Malibu Democratic Club President Ann Doneen wrote in an email.
Following the March 11, 2011 Fukushima earthquake, Coneen said Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) officials marked Diablo Canyon as the most likely in the nation to be hit by an earthquake stronger that it was designed to withstand. Paul Frey of Mendocino County, spoke at the event on Saturday and examined the health, economic and agricultural effects of a disaster at Diablo Canyon, and also looked at where radiation would be carried by prevailing winds and ocean currents. Using maps developed by the Monterey Naval Research Laboratory and the UC Santa Barbara Ocean physics Laboratory as well as studying the aftermath of Chernobyl, he was able to show that the radiation cloud would mostly head south to Malibu and beyond.”The entire L.A. Basin is a natural dust trap that would also trap nuclear radiation,” Frey said. ‘And the economic damage to California would be off the scale.”
A number of new earthquake faults in and around the Diablo Canyon plant have been indentified that were unknown when the plant was designed and built prior to when it started up in 1985. For that reason alone, some experts say the plant is violating federal law by continuing to operate.
According to a report in the L.A. Times, “New geological research shows that the Ventura fault is capable of producing earthquakes as large as magnitude 8 as well as severe tsunamis. The fault runs through downtown Ventura, connecting to fault lines in Los Angeles, San Bernardino and Santa Barbara . . . Previously, researchers didn’t think California earthquakes could produce tsunamis, since the San Andreas fault is so far inland.”
Doneen said that in July 2013, Dr. Michael Peck, former senior resident inspector of the NRC, tried for a second time to officially call for a shutdown of the Diablo Canyon reactors. He cited the Hosgri fault discovered in in 1971 only 3.56 miles offshore, the Shroeline fault discovered in 2008 less than 1,000 feet from the ocean water intake structure and two smaller faults. The NRC never released or ruled on his “differing professional opinion” document.
Harvey Wasserman, senior advisor to the Nuclear Information and Resource Service and one of the original anti-nuclear activists who coined the phrase “No Nukes,” also spoke at Saturday’s event. He maintained that if Diablo Canyon applied for state and federal construction permits today on the same site, it would never be allowed. In addition, he contends that over 30 years of aging has caused a weakening of the structure.
The Mothers for Peace nonprofit organization in San Luis Obispo, headed by Linda Seeley, has been using every legal means at its disposal to get the Diablo Canyon plant stopped or closed down since 1973. Their attorney in Washington, D.C. has filed against the relicensing of the plant based on statute limitations, seismic safety and high-level radioactive wast storage. The plant’s current license expires in 2024 and 2025 (Units 1 and 2) and Pacific Gas and Electric has already applied to extend those licenses for 20 years behyond that.
Since the plant still operates under an exemption that allows them to “suck up 2.5 billion gallons of ocean water per day, killing all of the sea life, and then discharging it back into the ocean 20 degrees hotter, devastating the ocean floor around Diablo Canyon,” Seeley said. Mothers for Peace is organizing a letter-writing campaign to the California Water Board to force them to build cooling towers.
“Since it won’t be economically feasible for them to build ooling towers, we hope they throw in the towel and withdraw their application for relicensing,” Seeley said. “It’ll also cost them a bundle to make post-Fukushima changes now required by the NRC.”
Special thanks to Malibu Democratic Club Member Myla Reson for
producing this special event.