PG&E’s report on seismic safety at Diablo Canyon: the disturbing truth

For Immediate Release

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

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PG&E’s report on seismic safety at Diablo Canyon: the disturbing truth

Friends of the Earth: Alarming findings should trigger immediate closure of nuclear plant

WASHINGTON - Pacific Gas and Electric Co. released today its long-awaited, state-mandated seismic safety study of the Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant, with disturbing findings that Friends of the Earth says should result in immediate closure of the plant.

The study finds that the nearby Shoreline Fault, only discovered a few years ago, is far longer than previously assumed—and the longer the fault, the more energy it can release in an earthquake. Additionally, PG&E now concedes that it should be assumed that the Shoreline Fault may connect to other nearby faults that surround the Diablo Canyon reactors; such linked faults can mean a far greater potential for violent ground motion and shaking. An earthquake on one fault could trigger a quake on an interconnected fault, producing a larger quake than one fault alone.

“Decrepit reactors on an array of active seismic faults is a recipe for disaster,” said Damon Moglen, Senior strategic advisor at Friends of the Earth. “PG&E is trying to spin the facts and asking the public to blindly trust them. But the facts are clear: the plant’s two aging reactors—designed in the 1960s and built in the 1970s—are surrounded by dangerous earthquake faults that were unknown at the time of construction, and these faults are capable of far stronger shaking than the plant was designed and built to withstand.”

David Freeman, a nuclear power expert who is former head of the federal Tennesse Valley Authority, Los Angeles Department of Water and Power and the Sacramento Municipal Utility District , said PG&E has issued a “self-serving statement that puts safety last and its profits first.”

“It has taken six years for PG&E to acknowledge the risks of the Shoreline Fault first identified in 2008. Why has the utility withheld this information for years when it involves such dramatic risk to the public?” asked Freeman, now a special advisor to Friends of the Earth.

Freeman added: “Unfortunately, this seems very much in character for the company responsible for the safety failures that led to the San Bruno natural gas line disaster. This is a ‘safety’ report by a company that has been indicted by the federal government for its corporate disregard for safety.”

Friends of the Earth has filed a petition with the NRC calling for the closure of Diablo Canyon because new seismic data shows that the plant is no longer in compliance with its license and licensing basis and is not safe. Federal regulators and the utility must either undertake an adjudicated public relicensing process to prove that the plant is safe; or PG&E should get on with the work of immediately replacing power from Diablo Canyon with safe, clean renewable energy.

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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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