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Diablo Canyon Power Plant

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Diablo Canyon Power Plant


The Day Before Fukushima

Field Trip to Diablo Nuclear Power Plant


On October 5, I had the opportunity to tour Diablo. You will be glad to know that any worries you might have about Diablo are unfounded and silly, and you really should just relax.

The day before Fukushima is how we live each day. Everything was fine the day prior to Fukushima and so it is with us.

When we moved to Santa Barbara in 1988 I was completely unaware of the Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant, and, looking back, was probably unaware of it for many years. Even through the earthquakes we had, I’m not sure I ever thought of it. If there is a positive aspect to Fukushima it is to remind us that just up the coast is a nuclear power plant that could render unto us what was just rendered unto the people of Japan. On October 5, I had the opportunity to tour Diablo. You will be glad to know that any worries you might have about Diablo are unfounded and silly, and you really should just relax.

Glenn "Rhino" Griffith with friend Elaine St. James
Click to enlarge photo

Glenn “Rhino” Griffith with friend Elaine St. James

No matter what was said or asked by anyone on the tour, the people conducting the tour had a positive, upbeat, “there is nothing going on here that we can’t handle” answer. Everything is fine and under control.

The first thing I noticed was how beautiful the seven-mile ride into the site was. Moss hanging from old oak trees, agricultural land, horses, cows, and of course the ocean. The site of Diablo is one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen. No wonder the Chumash had a sacred village there.

The next thing I noticed was the number of cars. Huge, huge lots of parked cars all over the property. I asked how many people worked there and was told 1400. Next, the number of buildings. Huge buildings all over the place. I asked how much all of this cost and was told that by the time it opened they had spent $6.5 billion, and I can only imagine how much has been spent since. I guess it does take a village.

We had a bubbly female (cheer)leader who never met a reactor she didn’t love. All of the male speakers too, as I have said, had an answer for everything, every concern. I kept thinking, “My god, you all are so confident!! I wish I had said “This is the way it was the day before Fukushima,” but I didn’t. The crowd was pretty much a group of sheeple, myself included I guess, but when they have an answer for everything and are so confident, it can take the wind out of your sails and of course that is the plan. Einstein could have been asking the questions, it wouldn’t have mattered.

I did ask if the place was analog or digital and if it mattered. The answer came back real fast: Yes, yes, and YES! The plant is built on bedrock, the spent fuel rods are safe in the cool water, and the dry storage casks are really safe because the level of radiation is really low. All is well. They do not expect a large earthquake there and besides the really good news is that Diablo can take a bigger “ground shaking” than what happened in Japan. OK! I kept wondering, “How do they know these things?” Testing for radiation, they are not finding ANY change since opening day. All is well.

Security did not seem all that tight, although there were guys walking around with rather large guns and there is a practice range on the property. As we were bused out I saw a couple of FedEx trucks coming in and it seemed to me there could be bombs on those trucks as security at the gate was just one guy in a kiosk waving us through. I did not see anything else at the gate. Then there is the “NO FLY ZONE” thing. Someone did mention it and Ms. Bubbly explained that planes aren’t supposed to “loiter.” That is, you are not supposed to make turns and fly back and forth. A friend of mine who has a plane and recently flew by and took pictures. I do not think the subject of terrorists flying airplanes came up, but I don’t think there would be any way of doing anything about it. All is well.

Of course there is money “in the system” for when the time comes to shut it down and everyone goes home. Really? In fact, we were told, one day all this will be gone and the area restored to what it looked like in say 1950. Really? Except for maybe a bunch of dry storage casks, but then again they are quite safe and the radiation levels are low.

More than once the federal government was mentioned because they have not provided these nuke plants with a safe place to take all of those spent fuel rods and nuclear waste, but we were assured that this will happen, eventually. So, all is well. (At least five million pounds of waste are stored at Diablo and it grows each day.)

The cooling ocean water coming out of the plant was like Niagara Falls. I think they said 1.7 million gallons per minute is flowing back into the ocean. The water may be as much as 22 degrees hotter than when it went in. I thought I saw steam coming out of the tunnel, but it may have been mist. The large beautiful cove it was pouring back into had this agitated, brown, gunky cover to it but again there was no harm being done to the ocean. One good thing is, you wouldn’t need a wet suit to swim there. It’s all good. Everything was so good, and clean, and safe, and under control it was like we were touring a chocolate factory.

What we were sold was something that was cheap and 100 percent safe. What is the sales pitch now? We have to have nukes because of climate change. Small carbon footprint. But what I see is this: Climate change seems to rolling along quite well, thank you, and nukes don’t seem to be having much of an effect. Now instead of having one problem we have two or more. It always really comes down to money, jobs and stockholders. But after a Fukushima event, it’s ‘OOPS! Isn’t it a pity what happened to the central coast?’

The people of Japan are worried about us because they know there are two places on earth where a Fukushima event can happen: where it happened and California. How many people do you know who went to northern Japan this summer to vacation and swim in the radiant waters off of the Fukushima coast?

By the NRC’s own standards, they aren’t supposed to allow nuclear power plants to be built on or near earthquake fault lines. By their own regulations Diablo should never have been built. People tried to stop it … It turns out Diablo is very close to 13 fault lines, one of which goes right up to and under Reactor #1.

PG & E is dying to get a license renewal for 20 more years even though they still have 13 years to go in their current license. You don’t suppose anything horrible could happen in the next 33 years, do you – earthquake, tidal wave, accident, terrorist act? What could possibly be worth this sort of roulette?

We need to shut down Diablo, it is the only sure way to stop a tragedy. We need to set a trend; the rest of the country would appreciate it. We do not need your phone number, your email address, or your zip code. But when the time comes, when you hear the call, we all need to stand up together and shut down these California nuclear power plants. Listen for the call.

Glenn "Rhino" Griffith is working with San Luis Obispo Mothers for Peace on shutting down both of California's nuclear power plants.

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