California Fukushima? West Coast Plant a ‘Ticking Time Bomb’

nuclear reactor
Environmental Pollution

Greater scrutiny of Diablo Canyon’s twin nuclear reactors is needed, says Sam Blakeslee, a former California state senator. Blakeslee testifies to a Senate panel this week that makes determinations on public safety issues. He feels that the nuclear power plant poses a hazard should an earthquake happen in California, since the reactors are on fault lines.

The reactors are located near several faults on a seaside bluff midway between Los Angeles and San Francisco.

Of course, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and owner of the plant, Pacific Gas and Electric Co. (PG&E) have vehemently defended the safety of the site – just as TEPCO assured the public that the Fukushima site was safe, and even after the Daiichi tragedy, that all radiation leaks were contained.

Blakeslee is particularly qualified to testify about the Diablo Canyon site, since he is also a geophysicist. He left the legislature in 2012. Included in his prepared remarks he states:

 “The potential earthquakes affecting the plant have increased with each major study. But what’s equally striking is that the shaking predicted by PG&E for these increasing threats has systematically decreased.”

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) is supposed to be re-evaluating U.S. nuclear plants to consider seismic risks, with studies due by March.

Read: 2 Nuclear Reactors to be Built in US Using Taxpayer Monies

In reference to Diablo Canyon, another scientists meant to testify states:

“The NRC must make safety its highest priority, because earthquakes don’t wait for endless studies and I am concerned the NRC is again dithering when action is called for.”

According to the Associated Press, a senior federal nuclear expert has urged the NRC to shut down the plant until it can determine whether the reactors can withstand shaking from any of several nearby faults not recognized when the plant was constructed decades ago.

There are currently over 62 nuclear power plants in the US. According to the World Nuclear Association, the US is the world’s largest producer of nuclear power, accounting for more than 30% of worldwide nuclear generation of electricity. We don’t even list in the top ten countries for solar power, though we are supposed to be a “super power.” Hopefully we can continue to change this.