A recent inspection of emergency preparedness at Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant revealed more than 20 problems that need to be corrected.
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission carried out the inspection in response to the March 11 earthquake and tsunami in Japan that severely damaged a nuclear power plant at Fukushima.
The problems at Diablo Canyon ran the gamut from a backup cooling pump that failed to start to operators not having done the necessary assessments to determine which parts of the plant might be inaccessible during an extreme emergency because of high radiation levels.
“They did identify some areas for improvement, but nothing that was significant enough to undermine the ability of the plant to respond to a severe event like an explosion, fire or flood,” said Victor Dricks, NRC spokesman.
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Other issues identified in the inspection include:
Vehicles parked in areas that may block access to emergency equipment.
Reliance on state highways and access roads that may be inaccessible after an earthquake.
A fire truck storage building that could be structurally damaged to the extent that debris could restrict access.
Standby diesel generators susceptible to common problems because of similarities in design and location.
The discrepancies will be corrected as part of the plant’s regular oversight process, Dricks said. Additional inspections could be conducted to verify that corrections have been made.
Plant operators were aware of many of the problems found in the inspection because PG&E had already done its own safety reviews in the aftermath of the Japanese disaster, said Paul Flake, PG&E spokesman.
All of the problems will be corrected, including repairing the pump that did not start, Flake said. The utility is also reviewing its emergency response procedures.
All of the nation’s 104 nuclear plants were subjected to the inspections that looked at the plants’ ability to deal with power outages and large-scale damage from an extreme event such as happened in Japan.
The inspections were conducted by the plant’s two resident NRC inspectors in late March and early April. They examined the ability of plant operators to maintain reactor and spent fuel pool cooling as well as the ability to deal with blackouts, earthquakes, fires and floods.