Diablo Canyon nuclear plant: no plan for earthquakes

The nuclear power generating station near San Luis Obispo on the central California coast was allowed to open without an emergency plan for earthquakes — and still doesn't have one, the Huffington Post reports. New York-based business reporter Chris Kirkham, a former environmental reporter, says:

The underlying theory was that the plant's design, which came after years of planning and geological studies, could withstand any foreseeable earthquake in the area -- the same assumption that guided thinking in Japan.

Emergency response plans at the Diablo Canyon plant still do not take an earthquake-induced nuclear release into account.

"What they're saying is that there could be an earthquake, but in no way could it ever cause a radioactive release at the same time," said Rochelle Becker, who led the San Luis Obispo, Calif., group that first sued the Nuclear Regulatory Commission over earthquake preparedness in the 1980s. "I'm pretty sure we now have evidence that it does."

A spokeswoman for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission confirmed that the emergency response plans at Diablo Canyon do not have an earthquake contingency plan because the commission is satisfied that the plant's structure will be able to withstand an earthquake in the area -- calculated as a maximum magnitude of 7.5.

Pacific Gas and Electric, which operates Diablo Canyon, recently located an earthquake fault a mile offshore that had not been previously known, the story says.

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