The Diablo Canyon nuclear plant is out of compliance with the terms of its license based on new information on seismic problems, Senate Environment & Public Works Committee chair Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) said during a Dec. 3 panel hearing. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission begs to differ. \u201cWe consider Diablo in compliance. If we find it\u2019s not safe to operate, we will shut that down,\u201d replied commission chair Allison Macfarlane. The hearing was to discuss progress of the 12 recommendations to improve safety at the nation\u2019s nuclear plants after the Fukushima Daiichi reactors melted down in 2011. The agency has not implemented any of the post-Fukushima recommendations. \u201cIt is so frustrating, all you say is you\u2019re continuing to look at recommendations. You have to do better,\u201d said Boxer. The senator has four nuclear plants in her jurisdiction\u2014Diablo Canyon, as well as the shutdown San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station, Humboldt Bay, and Rancho Seco facilities. While Rancho Seco is decommissioned, the other plants could pose safety threats through radiation if under duress from earthquakes or other hazards, like those that occurred at the Fukushima Daiichi facility. The Senate panel focused on the nation\u2019s safety improvements in general, but specifically on the new earthquake data provided to the commission in September on Diablo Canyon (Current, Sept. 11, 2014). The seismic data provided by Diablo Canyon owner Pacific Gas & Electric are \u201cextraordinary\u201d and \u201cdisturbing,\u201d testified University of California, Santa Cruz, professor Dan Hirsch. There are at least four earthquake faults within 30 kilometers of Diablo, Hirsch added. They are the Hosgri, Los Osos, San Luis Bay, and Shoreline faults. He noted that PG&E revealed in September that the Hosgri, at 171 kilometers, is nearly twice as long as previously thought. The combination of fault lines is \u201cestimated to produce ground motion in excess\u201d of what Diablo is designed to withstand, he added. California ratepayers are committed to pay $64 million for seismic studies near the Diablo plant\u2014the ones submitted to the federal government in September. Not all those funds have been disbursed by the California Public Utilities Commission. Anti-nuclear groups expected state law AB 1632 passed in 2006 by former Sen. Sam Blakeslee (R-San Luis Obispo), also a geophysicist, to reveal safety concerns and goad nuclear plant owners and regulators towards early retirement. The data collection ended up becoming far more expensive and environmentally threatening than activists intended. The California Coastal Commission prohibited PG&E from underwater sonic tests for research because it feared marine life, like whales, would suffer and die. The commercial fishing industry in nearby Morro Bay was closed during the seismic data gathering. In testimony to the Senate panel this week, Blakeslee told senators, \u201cWe know a great deal more about seismic issues than we did when Diablo Canyon was licensed. It\u2019s time for the [commission] to reassess the seismic standards for the plant and submit them to a formal licensing amendment process.\u201d Blakeslee added that with the new data, seismic threat scenarios \u201care all greater than the current\u201d estimates. On the industry side, Tony Pietrangelo, senior vice president, Nuclear Energy Institute, noted that Diablo was \u201cretrofitted to withstand ground motions from the Hosgri fault.\u201d He added, \u201cThe plant is able to withstand the largest ground motions that could be expected to be generated from any of the nearby faults.\u201d \u201cDiablo Canyon was built with extensive seismic fortifications to withstand shaking from the strongest potential earthquakes in the region. It's also why PG&E maintains a long term seismic program that is comprised of a team of geoscience professionals who partner with independent, leading seismic experts on an ongoing basis to ensure the facility remains safe,\u201d according to PG&E spokesperson Blair Jones. \u201cDiablo Canyon is also continuously evaluated by the [federal commission] and its experts have determined that the expected ground motions from potential seismic activity are below the levels that Diablo Canyon has been designed to withstand. In fact, recently completed advanced seismic research in the region further confirms the facility can withstand potential earthquakes on nearby faults. Per established processes, the research is now being independently reviewed at the state and federal levels by leading seismic hazard experts,\u201d Jones added.