Diablo Canyon workshop to focus on earthquakes

Speakers at event in September will take questions about seismic issues affecting the nuclear power plant

dsneed@thetribunenews.comAugust 8, 2010 

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has scheduled a two-day public workshop in September in San Luis Obispo to discuss the science of earthquakes and how they affect the Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant.

Speakers at the event Sept. 8 and 9 will include Joaquin Ruiz, president of the Geological Society of America, James Boyd, California energy commissioner, and other seismic experts. The purpose of the event is to increase the public’s knowledge of the science of earthquakes and how it relates to nuclear power plants.

“The workshop will provide an opportunity for people to hear from a wide range of experts in the field and ask questions of the presenters,” said Elmo Collins, administrator of the NRC’s Western region.

Earthquakes have been one of the main safety concerns at the plant since the Hosgri Fault was discovered about three miles offshore near the facility. Those concerns increased significantly with the discovery last year of the Shoreline Fault, which is less than a mile offshore.

Seismologists say that the maximum strength of a quake from either fault is magnitude 6.5. Diablo Canyon is designed to withstand a quake of magnitude 7.5.

Earthquakes have been a topic of lengthy discussion at recent NRC public hearings. They also play a key role in a series of challenges filed against plans by Pacific Gas and Electric Co., which owns and operates Diablo, to extend the life of the plant by 20 years.

The first day of the workshop will focus on the science of earthquakes, including how they are measured and monitored and how that data is used in designing nuclear power plants. The second day will focus on Diablo Canyon’s earthquake issues, including briefings on historic seismic reviews and current earthquake studies.

Other presenters are from Cal Poly, UC Berkeley, UCSB, PG&E, Southern California Edison, the U.S. Geological Survey, the NRC and the California Geological Society.

Reach David Sneed at 781-7930.

NRC event next month The Nuclear Regulatory Commission workshop will be Sept. 8 and 9 at Embassy Suites, 333 Madonna Road in San Luis Obispo. Both sessions start at 8 a.m. To register for the free event, visit www.nrc.gov.

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