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Pat Bagley, Salt Lake Tribune

Time to Close Diablo Nuclear Plant

Fault Lines and Potential Offshore Oil Development a Dangerous Mix


A powerful offshore magnitude 8.2 earthquake shook Mexico City on September 7, one of the largest quakes to hit Mexico in the last century. This was followed on September 19 by a magnitude 7.1 shaker that struck central Mexico, collapsing buildings in plumes of dust and killing more than 300 people. Two more earthquakes shook southern Mexico on Saturday, September 22, further upsetting a country still coming to grips with the devastation from the strong temblors earlier in the month.

Here in California, we are told to get ready for “The Big One”, a possible 9.0 Fukushima-like earthquake. Unfortunately, a quake of this magnitude would be compounded by the threat it poses to PG&E’s Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant. Originally designed to withstand a magnitude 6.75 earthquake and later reconstructed to tolerate a magnitude 7.5 quake, the nuclear plant’s tolerances underestimate the true seismic potential of today’s mega-thrust shakers.

Additionally, a previously well-documented zone of faulting called the Diablo Cove Fault extends through the foundation, under the power plant’s Unit One turbine generator and reactor containment vessel. The east-west trending Diablo Cove Fault runs offshore and intersects with the nearby Shoreline Fault which in turn is connected to the Hosgri Fault Line, a component of the San Andreas Fault System. The power stored within this network of seismically linked faults could create an earthquake sufficient to exceed Diablo Canyon’s safeguards.

Sadly, President Trump and his administration are going after hundreds of millions of acres of protected marine sanctuaries including California’s Channel Islands, the Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary, and the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. If the Trump administration has its way, these protected areas will be opened to offshore drilling and hydraulic fracturing on and around a plethora of stressed fault lines which could trigger a meltdown at the 32-year-old, brittle Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant.

Since June 6, 2016, the California State Lands Commission has conducted over “40” offshore mapping surveys from San Diego County to San Francisco County. Many of these “publicly financed” surveys were done with the same underwater sonar equipment that is used for oil and gas exploration. The problem is that the petroleum and methane extraction companies will use these sonar maps to stake their claim for both drilling and fracking rights.

Because California’s coastline lies along the “Pacific Ring of Fire” earthquake zone, it’s imperative that we place a moratorium on offshore drilling and fracking as well as close Diablo down as soon as possible so as to avoid a replay of the Fukushima-Daiichi nuclear plant’s disastrous ongoing meltdowns.

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