In response to the nuclear nightmare still unfolding in Japan, Congressmember Lois Capps called on the Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) to withdraw its application to relicense the Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power plant, located at Avila Bay, 90 miles up the coast, pending completion of three-dimensional seismic surveys of a new fault. Capps also has called on Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) Chair Gregory Jaczko to order the relicensing application suspended. Because Diablo Canyon’s current licenses don’t expire for another 13 years, Capps argued, there was more than enough time to conduct the 3-D tests, which are estimated to take 3-4 years to complete. PG&E contends that the maximum seismic thrust the new fault—dubbed the Shoreline fault—is capable of delivering is 6.5, and that Diablo Canyon was built to withstand 7.5.
But geologists with the United States Geological Survey maintain they still don’t know what the fault’s slip rate is, information that could prove crucial to determining maximum ground motion. In related news, NRC executive Bill Borchardt told a Senate panel that the 104 nuclear plants in the United States were safe and that no major changes needed to be initiated, based on his assessment of the recent Japanese quake and its nuclear consequences.