Original Fault?

Is the newly discovered off-shore fault near Diablo Canyoln Nuclear Power Plant all that new? Perhaps not—just a well kept secret. I worked with [geologists] Tom Dibblee and Helmut Ehrenspect on numerous maps and was myself a geologist with the U.S. Forest Service. The oil industry geophysicists knew of these faults long before the Diablo nuclear power plant was presented as a plan. But, then, oil companies are not required to share their data.

In the late 1960s and early 1970s, as a graduate student at UC Davis, I met a fellow in the community who was a geologist. As I got to know him, I found out that that he had been responsible for making the seismic maps for the state. In the provisional maps being worked upon, there was a penciled-in dotted line of a suspected fault just off shore from where the Diablo Plant was to be constructed. One day it was completely erased from the map.

There were immediate questions as to what was going on. Evidently this provisional seismic line would interfere with future plans in the area and thus it was, perhaps for political reasons, expunged from the tentative map. The information of the line’s disappearance evidently did not strike a chord with agency higher-ups, so the information was carried to the press. The press guaranteed that the source would remain anonymous. The story was printed. Three days later, the source was on the carpet before the governor.

Thus two questions: Which new fault are we really discussing and what of the integrity of the state in this instance?

The United States Geological Survey is, however, straight arrow, probably one of the few remaining agencies within the federal government that is not clientele-captured.—Edo McGowan


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