Sunday, April 3, 2011

California Fault Lines, Lawmakers, and Nuclear Power

KPFA Weekend News Anchor Anthony Fest: California has two operating nuclear power plants, San Onofre in Orange County, and PG&E's Diablo Canyon Plant in San Luis Obispo County, on the Central Coast.   Both are on the coastline and both are built near earthquake faults.  State Senator Alex Padilla has called for a special hearing at the State capitol on April 14 to examine the risks the two aging plants might pose.  KPFA's Ann Garrison has the story.

PG&E's Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant on the
California Coast
KPFA/Ann Garrison: For the past five years the San Luis Obispo-based Alliance for Nuclear Responsibility has been urging California legislators and oversight agencies to require peer reviewed seismic studies to measure the risk of earthquake damage to Pacific Gas and Electric's (PG&E's) nuclear power plant at Diablo Canyon and Southern California Edison's plant at San Onofre. The California Energy Commission has requested that the California Public Utilities Commission require PG&E do the latest, advanced 3-D studies on both old and new earthquake faults beneath Diablo Canyon before granting any ratepayer funding for its license renewal applications, but PG&E has opposed and fought the requirement to do the studies, and the CPUC has failed to act. Rochelle Becker, Executive Director of the Alliance for Nuclear Responsibility, says that Japan's worsening nuclear catastrophe could have been California's, and that Californians should be able to insist that the studies be done now.

Rochelle Becker, Executive Director,
Alliance for Nuclear Responsibility
Rochelle Becker: The one thing that separates California from every other reactor site in the nation is the seismic proximity. There are four active faults within 5 kilometers of Diablo Canyon, one 1800 feet away. There are several active faults offshore of San Onofre and there are new studies being done that have come out of the Baja quakes last year. We are focussing on what the State has jurisdiction to do. If we step into fighting nuclear power, fighting the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, then we have a much greater hill to climb. And, we are on the other side of the country from the rest of the reactors' groups. We need to focus on California. We certainly support what everyone else is doing, but in California, it is California rights that should do this. It is California officials who are responsible.

KPFA: Updates on the challenge to re-licensing California's nuclear power plants will be posted to the website of the Alliance for Nuclear Responsibility,, as the process unfolds.

For Pacifica/KPFA, I'm Ann Garrison.

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