Nuclear regulator again rebuffs safety inspector’s concerns of quake safety at Diablo Canyon

For Immediate Release

Contact: 

Expert Contacts: Damon Moglen, (202) 352-4223, dmoglen@foe.org

Communications Contacts:
Kate Colwell, (202) 222-0744, kcolwell@foe.org (East Coast)
Bill Walker, (510) 759-9911, bw.deadline@gmail.com (West Coast)

Nuclear regulator again rebuffs safety inspector’s concerns of quake safety at Diablo Canyon

Friends of the Earth: NRC’s closed-door decision ignores public health and safety

WASHINGTON - After suppressing a safety inspector’s report for more than a year, federal regulators are continuing to brush aside his warning that the Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant may not be safe from an earthquake stronger than the aging plant was designed to withstand.

Today the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission notified Friends of the Earth that it has dismissed the Differing Professional Opinion filed in June 2013 by Dr. Michael Peck, who was then chief resident inspector at the Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant, on the Pacific coast between San Francisco and Los Angeles. In his DPO Peck wrote that new seismic data, unknown when the plant was built more than 40 years ago, show that the NRC and Pacific Gas & Electric Co. can no longer be sure the plant is safe to operate. He said since the plant is now in violation of its federal operating license, it should be shut down pending additional safety studies.

Friends of the Earth, which has filed a petition with the NRC to shut down the plant and conduct an adjudicated relicensing hearing with public participation, said the decision is deeply disturbing, especially since it comes before the long-awaited release of PG&E’s long-overdue seismic safety study.

A statement from Damon Moglen, Senior strategic advisor for Friends of the Earth:

For over a year, the NRC has kept secret the recommendation of its then-Resident Inspector that the Diablo Canyon nuclear plant is operating in violation of its license and should be shut down until proven safe. Now that the Associated Press has penetrated the NRC's veil of secrecy, the agency announced that it has denied Dr. Michael Peck's recommendation, without affording anyone else an opportunity  to contribute evidence or expert opinion to inform that decision.

Fortunately the Atomic Energy Act did not empower the NRC to be a dictator and make highly contested decisions behind closed doors. Under the Act, the public has a voice. Friends of the Earth has raised that voice in its petition to the NRC. The regulator must provide the public a chance to hear the facts, weigh the evidence and give input on this vital issue of health and safety.

Diablo Canyon could never be built on such an earthquake-prone site today. It should not be allowed to operate for another day without being closed and subjected to a full public safety review.

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Friends of the Earth is the U.S. voice of the world's largest grassroots environmental network, with member groups in 77 countries. Since 1969, Friends of the Earth has fought to create a more healthy, just world.

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