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Earthquake Dangers at Diablo Worsened by Fracking

Outfall Permit Review by State Lands on June 28 to Consider CEQA


We know that both onshore and offshore hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” is the process of drilling and injecting a high-pressure mixture of fracking fluid at subterranean rock to release the shale gas, tight gas, and tight oil inside the earth. Water, sand, and a variety of toxic chemicals are injected under high pressure, which allows the gas and oil to flow. The highly pressurized toxic liquids used in fracking can start earthquakes by lubricating preexisting faults deep underground. This allows masses of rock to slide past each other. Both the U.S. Army and the U.S. Geological Survey have concluded that the practice of injecting pressurized water into deep rock formations causes earthquakes.

Unfortunately, the federal government just lifted a moratorium on 19 offshore fracking platforms in the Santa Barbara Channel.

The Hosgri fault, which is located in the southern part of the San Gregorio-Sur-San Simeon-Hosgri fault system, is truncated against or merges with the faults in northwestern Santa Barbara Channel. The problem is that offshore hydraulic fracturing in the Santa Barbara Chanel could trigger a meltdown at the aging and brittle Diablo Canyon Nuclear power plant.

In 1812, the Santa Barbara Channel magnitude 7 earthquake produced five tsunami waves in front of the Santa Barbara Presidio. The USGS estimated the largest wave was about 50 feet high. In June 29, 1925, Santa Barbara was hit with a magnitude 6 earthquake. The epicenter of the earthquake was located in the Santa Barbara Channel. A magnitude 5.9 earthquake in 1941 was also centered in the Santa Barbara Channel about six miles south of the City of Santa Barbara.

The Diablo Cove Fault, which runs east to west directly under the Diablo Canyon nuclear plant’s Unit One Reactor and turbine building, cuts across the seismically active Shoreline Fault. The Shoreline Fault is connected to the feared Hosgri Fault, a component of the San Andreas Fault System. In addition to these major faults there are undiscovered collaterals, faults that branch off of major fault lines. It was a mega-thrust magnitude 9 offshore earthquake and tsunami that caused the deadly ongoing Fukushima nuclear catastrophe.

The Diablo Cove Fault, the Shoreline Fault, the Hosgri Fault, and the San Andreas Fault are all seismically linked, and the power stored within the combined network of fault systems could create an earthquake sufficient to exceed Diablo Canyon’s safeguards.

Another change in the geologic status quo is coming from the reduction of weight at the polar caps that is ongoing due to global warming. The melting ice reduces the weight on both the top and bottom of the planet, causes more tectonic plate movement. This gives rise to stronger and more frequent earthquakes around the Pacific “Ring of Fire” earthquake zone.

It’s imperative that the California State Lands Commission call for a full environmental (CEQA) review of the facility before granting an extension of the outfall permits. It is no longer rational for us to live with the risks posed by the Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant. The announced closure of Diablo Canyon is nine long years away. We need to adopt a new reality and begin planning the removal of this “more than dangerous” eyesore from our coastline.

On June 28, 2016, a meeting of the California State Lands Commission will consider the necessity of a full environmental (CEQA) review of PG&E’s more-than-dangerous Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant before the Commission grants a 10-year extension of the outfall permits.

Please email Chairwoman Betty T. Yee and the California State Lands Commissioners and demand a full environmental (CEQA) review of PG&E’s Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant. It’s time to close Diablo down!

To submit a written public comment for a California State Lands Commission meeting, email CSLC.CommissionMeetings@slc.ca.gov. Include the Agenda Item number, which is Item Number 96, in the subject line.

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