Not only does PG&E’s Diablo Canyon Power Plant seismic report released Wednesday contain no red flags, but it also concludes that the danger posed by an earthquake on the Hosgri Fault has been significantly overestimated.
That wasn’t the only positive news for PG&E on Wednesday: The Nuclear Regulatory Commission issued a response to the “differing opinion” report from former Diablo Canyon inspector Michael Peck, who believes PG&E has not established that all components of the plant can safely withstand earthquakes. In a report leaked to an environmental group, Peck advocated for closing the plant until it can be proven safe.
The NRC disagrees; in a memo to Peck released Wednesday, Mark Satorius, the NRC’s executive director of operations, concludes there is no “significant or immediate safety concern” regarding Diablo Canyon.
Supporters of Diablo Canyon don’t need to be told that the plant is safe; they’ve never doubted it.
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On the other hand, we don’t expect opponents to change their minds based on reports released Wednesday.
For those somewhere in the middle, who support nuclear power but are concerned about having a plant in an earthquake zone — particularly after Fukushima — the latest seismic news should be reassuring.
That said, the phrase “trust but verify” must be applied to this situation. An independent review of the data by technical experts is critical, both to doubleand triple-check that analysis and to reassure the public that this isn’t just coming from PG&E and its paid consultants.
The NRC will review the information; so will the Independent Peer Review Panel appointed by the California Public Utilities Commission. County Supervisor Bruce Gibson, a seismologist, is a member of that panel, along with representatives from several state agencies, including the Energy Commission, Geological Survey, Coastal Commission and Seismic Safety Commission.
Mothers for Peace, a nonprofit that has been watch-dogging the plant for decades, said Wednesday that it, too, will conduct a review.
Gibson said the peer review panel will conduct public meetings on the report for input and added he will seek to have a meeting in San Luis Obispo County.
We strongly urge the panel to do so. Release of the data is one step in the process; public scrutiny and discussion is another. Given that citizens of San Luis Obispo County are most affected, that should happen here.