Forgotten lessons from Fukushima? ‘Utility minimizes earthquake risks at California nuclear plant,’ critics say

Diablo Canyon
Since the Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant opened on a rocky stretch of California coast in 1985, researchers have discovered three nearby fault lines.
April 2015DIABLO CANYON, CALF. – Since the Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant opened on a rocky stretch of California coast in 1985, researchers have discovered three nearby fault lines capable of stronger quakes than the one that struck Napa last year.  And yet the plant’s owner, Pacific Gas and Electric Co., insists that Diablo isn’t in greater danger than previously thought. If anything, it’s in less.  PG&E has, at several times in Diablo’s complicated history, changed the way the company assesses the amount of shaking nearby faults can produce, as well as the plant’s ability to survive big quakes.  To Diablo’s critics, PG&E keeps tweaking the math to make California’s last nuclear plant look safer than it really is. If PG&E’s seismic studies showed that nearby faults could produce more shaking than the plant was designed to handle, Diablo could be forced to close. “The company has been claiming that the plant is stronger and stronger as more faults have been discovered,” said former state Sen. Sam Blakeslee, who has a doctorate in geophysics and lives nearby. “The utility has been moving the goal posts.”
PG&E insists that years of seismic studies at the plant near San Luis Obispo have given the company a more accurate picture than before. The biggest neighboring fault line — the Hosgri, discovered 3 miles offshore while Diablo was under construction — can’t shake the plant nearly as much as initially thought, according to PG&E. And the methods PG&E has developed to assess seismic threats at Diablo are far more precise than the ones used when the plant was designed, the company says. “It is a gold standard of how to look at seismicity and the geology surrounding any infrastructure, not just nuclear power plants,” said Ed Halpin, PG&E senior vice president and chief nuclear officer. “In my opinion it should be held up and applauded.” Instead, PG&E’s methodology has ended up in court.  Environmentalists pushing to close Diablo filed a lawsuit last year claiming the the Nuclear Regulatory Commission — the federal agency overseeing the nation’s nuclear plants — illegally let PG&E amend the seismic safety portion of Diablo’s operating license without public hearings.
The suit came after one of the commission’s former inspectors at Diablo argued that the plant was no longer operating within the terms of its license and should be shut down.  His objections, and the commission’s handling of them, are now under investigation by the commission’s own internal watchdog office. When construction on the plant began, in 1968, PG&E considered the location free of active faults. But in 1971, geologists working for Shell Oil found the Hosgri just offshore. For a power plant, the most important gauge of an earthquake’s severity isn’t the magnitude — it’s the amount of ground motion an earthquake will create at the plant itself. Diablo had originally been designed to withstand a specific level of shaking — .4g, or .4 times the force of gravity. An earthquake on the Hosgri Fault, researchers decided, could produce more violent shaking than that, with a peak ground motion of .75g. By then, much of the plant had already been built. So PG&E had to retrofit Diablo before it ever opened. –Emergency Management
This entry was posted in Black Swan Event, Civilizations unraveling, Dormant fault activation, Earth Changes, Earth Watch, Earthquake Omens?, Electric power disruption & grid failure, Environmental Threat, High-risk potential hazard zone, Human behavioral change after disaster, Infrastructure collapse, Lithosphere collapse & fisssure, Nuclear plant crisis, Potential Earthchange hotspot, Seismic tremors, Signs of Magnetic Field weakening, Tectonic plate movement, Time - Event Acceleration. Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Forgotten lessons from Fukushima? ‘Utility minimizes earthquake risks at California nuclear plant,’ critics say

  1. Dennis E. says:

    Well, speaking only for myself: This is a disturbing picture. What disturbs me is looking at the soil composition in the “U” . It favors the soil composition posted on this site recently, under homes that fell into the ocean when their foundations gave way. These homes were built rather close to the edge. Just seems the same to me. I also notice a water release? Ponder what possible dangers are in that? That could be a cause for fish kills?


  2. Irene C says:

    This just leaves me speechless. One earthquake away, even a small one, from a landslide. And have they discussed the possibilities of a tsunami if one occurs? Also there is what Dennis E said about fish kills. Plus we hear all the time about the radiation that’s coming over here from Fukushima, but what about the radiation that’s being generated from our own shores? So many questions that they’re either not asking or not answering.


  3. By March 25th of 2016 A.D., the earth will be enveloped with such high levels of nuclear fallout that the entire atmosphere is going to catch fire. (2 Peter 3:10-14).


  4. Tom Aumeg says:

    Every week, another of my neighbors in socal seems to have installed a set of solar panels. Each one of those is not consuming power during the hottest part of the day, and a great many are feeding power into the grid, to boost supply at peak A/C time. Diablo Canyon will be redundant before long, and let’s hope that they don’t instead close the natural gas burning plants that are left over.


  5. Yellow Bird says:

    this graphic shows how overlapping nuclear evac zones cover most of SoCa…
    as kids, we used surf in the shadow of San Onofre & throw jokes about southern CA falling off into the ocean when the Big One hits.
    now i’m thinking, could a major nuclear disaster end up being the Big One??


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