Diablo Seismic Study Questioned

By Published On: February 10, 2012

Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant owner Pacific Gas & Electric calls it an “extra effort” to “get a better understanding” of the geology surrounding the plant. Others questioned what they called a “rush” to $64 million in seismic studies that may not be the proper studies with the least environmental impact in a Feb. 6 California Public Utilities Commission workshop. PG&E is requesting the 3-D seismic studies on the plant be done as soon as possible. “Everything sort of changed after March,” said Stuart Nishenko, PG&E senior seismologist, referring to the March 2011 Fukushima Daiichi meltdowns. The State Lands Commission is wary of the project’s environmental impact and is requesting an environmental impact report. Environmentalists want the studies to be accurate, with the underlying supposition that the plant should be shut down because it represents a threat. The office of Sen. Sam Blakeslee (R-San Luis Obispo) questions whether the studies proposed by PG&E are the “right studies.” Blakeslee, a geophysicist by training, authored the legislation that requires seismic reporting for nuclear power plants, AB 1632. “We’re just not there yet” when it comes to assessing what studies to perform and how, said Blakeslee’s policy director Jonathan Changus. Alliance for Nuclear Responsibility consultant John Geesman questioned the “intellectual rigor” of the studies proposed. PG&E noted that the push to perform the studies is because it has a 20-year license extension proposal waiting for federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission approval for the nuclear facility. The utility hopes to show the plant is seismically safe in order to gain that final approval.

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